Chapter 1: Education And The Significance Of Life
When one travels around the world, one notices to what an extraordinary
degree human nature is the same, whether in India or America, in Europe or
Australia. This is especially true in colleges and universities. We are turning out,
as if through a mould, a type of human being whose chief interest is to find
security, to become somebody important, or to have a good time with as little
thought as possible.
Conventional education makes independent thinking extremely difficult.
Conformity leads to mediocrity. To be different from the group or to resist
environment is not easy and is often risky as long as we worship success. The
urge to be successful, which is the pursuit of reward whether in the material or in
the so-called spiritual sphere, the search for inward or outward security, the
desire for comfort – this whole process smothers discontent, puts an end to
spontaneity and breeds fear; and fear blocks the intelligent un- derstanding of life.
With increasing age, dullness of mind and heart sets in.
In seeking comfort, we generally find a quiet corner in life where there is a
minimum of conflict, and then we are afraid to step out of that seclusion. This fear
of life, this fear of struggle and of new experience, kills in us the spirit of
adventure; our whole upbringing and education have made us afraid to be
different from our neighbour, afraid to think contrary to the established pattern of
society, falsely respectful of authority and tradition.
Fortunately, there are a few who are in earnest, who are willing to examine our
human problems without the prejudice of the right or of the left; but in the vast
majority of us, there is no real spirit of discontent, of revolt. When we yield
uncomprehendingly to environment, any spirit of revolt that we may have had
dies down, and our responsibilities soon put an end to it. 4
Revolt is of two kinds: there is violent revolt, which is mere reaction, without
understanding, against the existing order; and there is the deep psychological
revolt of intelligence. There are many who revolt against the established
orthodoxies only to fall into new orthodoxies, further illusions and concealed self-
indulgences. What generally happens is that we break away from one group or
set of ideals and join another group, take up other ideals, thus creating a new
pattern of thought against which we will again have to revolt. Reaction only
breeds opposition, and reform needs further reform.
But there is an intelligent revolt which is not reaction, and which comes with
self-knowledge through the awareness of one’s own thought and feeling. It is only
when we face experience as it comes and do not avoid disturbance that we keep
intelligence highly awakened; and intelligence highly awakened is intuition, which
is the only true guide in life.
Now, what is the significance of life? What are we living and struggling for? If
we are being educated merely to achieve distinction, to get a better job, to be
more efficient, to have wider domination over others, then our lives will be shallow
and empty. If we are being educated only to be scientists, to be scholars wedded
to books, or specialists addicted to knowledge, then we shall be contributing to
the destruction and misery of the world.
Though there is a higher and wider significance to life, of what value is our
education if we never discover it? We may be highly educated, but if we are
without deep integration of thought and feeling, our lives are incomplete,
contradictory and torn with many fears; and as long as education does not
cultivate an integrated outlook on life, it has very little significance.
In our present civilization we have divided life into so many departments that
education has very little meaning, except in learning a particular technique or
profession. Instead of awakening the integrated intelligence of the individual, 5
education is encouraging him to conform to a pattern and so is hindering his
comprehension of himself as a total process. To attempt to solve the many
problems of existence at their respective levels, separated as they are into
various categories, indicates an utter lack of comprehension.
The individual is made up of different entities, but to emphasize the
differences and to encourage the development of a definite type leads to many
complexities and contradictions. Education should bring about the integration of
these separate entities – for without integration, life becomes a series of conflicts
and sorrows. Of what value is it to be trained as lawyers if we perpetuate
litigation? Of what value is knowledge if we continue in our confusion? What
significance has technical and industrial capacity if we use it to destroy one
another? What is the point of our existence if it leads to violence and utter
misery? Though we may have money or are capable of earning it, though we
have our pleasures and our organized religions, we are in endless conflict.
We must distinguish between the personal and the individual. The personal is
the accidental; and by the accidental I mean the circumstances of birth, the
environment in which we happen to have been brought up, with its nationalism,
superstitions, class distinctions and prejudices. The personal or accidental is but
momentary, though that moment may last a lifetime; and as the present system of
education is based on the personal, the accidental, the momentary, it leads to
perversion of thought and the inculcation of self-defensive fears.
All of us have been trained by education and environment to seek personal
gain and security, and to fight for ourselves. Though we cover it over with
pleasant phrases, we have been educated for various professions within a
system which is based on exploitation and acquisitive fear. Such a training must
inevitably bring confusion and misery to ourselves and to the world, for it creates
in each individual those psychological barriers which separate and hold him apart
from others. 6
Education is not merely a matter of training the mind. Training makes for
efficiency, but it does not bring about completeness. A mind that has merely been
trained is the continuation of the past, and such a mind can never discover the
new. That is why, to find out what is right education, we will have to inquire into
the whole significance of living.
To most of us, the meaning of life as a whole is not of primary importance, and
our education emphasizes secondary values, merely making us proficient in
some branch of knowledge. Though knowledge and efficiency are necessary, to
lay chief emphasis on them only leads to conflict and confusion.
There is an efficiency inspired by love which goes far beyond and is much
greater than the efficiency of ambition; and without love, which brings an
integrated understanding of life, efficiency breeds ruthlessness. Is this not what is
actually taking place all over the world? Our present education is geared to
industrialization and war, its principal aim being to develop efficiency; and we are
caught in this machine of ruthless competition and mutual destruction. If
education leads to war, if it teaches us to destroy or be destroyed, has it not
To bring about right education, we must obviously un- derstand the meaning
of life as a whole, and for that we have to be able to think, not consistently, but
directly and truly. A consistent thinker is a thoughtless person, because he
conforms to a pattern; he repeats phrases and thinks in a groove. We cannot
understand existence abstractly or theoretically. To understand life is to
understand ourselves, and that is both the beginning and the end of education.
Education is not merely acquiring knowledge, gathering and correlating facts;
it is to see the significance of life as a whole. But the whole cannot be
approached through the part – which is what governments, organized religions
and authoritarian parties are attempting to do. 7
The function of education is to create human beings who are integrated and
therefore intelligent. We may take degrees and be mechanically efficient without
being intelligent. Intelligence is not mere information; it is not derived from books,
nor does it consist of clever self-defensive responses and aggressive assertions.
One who has not studied may be more intelligent than the learned. We have
made examinations and degrees the criterion of intelligence and have developed
cunning minds that avoid vital human issues. Intelligence is the capacity to
perceive the essential, the what is; and to awaken this capacity, in oneself and in
others, is education.
Education should help us to discover lasting values so that we do not merely
cling to formulas or repeat slogans; it should help us to break down our national
and social barriers, instead of emphasizing them, for they breed antagonism
between man and man. Unfortunately, the present system of education is making
us subservient, mechanical and deeply thoughtless; though it awakens us
intellectually, inwardly it leaves us incomplete, stultified and uncreative.
Without an integrated understanding of life, our individual and collective
problems will only deepen and extend. The purpose of education is not to
produce mere scholars, technicians and job hunters, but integrated men and
women who are free of fear; for only between such human beings can there be
It is in the understanding of ourselves that fear comes to an end. If the
individual is to grapple with life from moment to moment, if he is to face its
intricacies, its miseries and sudden demands, he must be infinitely pliable and
therefore free of theories and particular patterns of thought.
Education should not encourage the individual to conform to society or to be
negatively harmonious with it, but help him to discover the true values which
come with unbiased investigation and self-awareness. When there is no self- 8
knowledge, self-expression becomes self-assertion, with all its aggressive and
ambitious conflicts. Education should awaken the capacity to be self-aware and
not merely indulge in gratifying self-expression.
What is the good of learning if in the process of living we are destroying
ourselves? As we are having a series of devastating wars, one right after another,
there is obviously something radically wrong with the way we bring up our
children. I think most of us are aware of this, but we do not know how to deal with
Systems, whether educational or political, are not changed mysteriously; they
are transformed when there is a fundamental change in ourselves. The individual
is of first importance, not the system; and as long as the individual does not
understand the total process of himself, no system, whether of the left or of the
right, can bring order and peace to the world. 9
Chapter 2: The Right Kind Of Education
THE ignorant man is not the unlearned, but he who does not know himself,
and the learned man is stupid when he relies on books, on knowledge and on
authority to give him understanding. Understanding comes only through self-
knowledge, which is awareness of one’s total psychological process. Thus
education, in the true sense, is the understanding of oneself, for it is within each
one of us that the whole of existence is gathered.
What we now call education is a matter of accumulating information and
knowledge from books, which anyone can do who can read. Such education
offers a subtle form of escape from ourselves and, like all escapes, it inevitably
creates increasing misery. Conflict and confusion result from our own wrong
relationship with people, things and ideas, and until we understand that
relationship and alter it, mere learning, the gathering of facts and the acquiring of
various skills, can only lead us to engulfing chaos and destruction.
As society is now organized, we send our children to school to learn some
technique by which they can eventually earn a livelihood. We want to make the
child first and foremost a specialist, hoping thus to give him a secure economic
position. But does the cultivation of a technique enable us to understand
While it is obviously necessary to know how to read and write, and to learn
engineering or some other profession, will technique give us the capacity to
understand life? Surely, technique is secondary; and if technique is the only thing
we are striving for, we are obviously denying what is by far the greater part of life.
Life is pain, joy, beauty, ugliness, love, and when we understand it as a whole,
at every level, that understanding creates its own technique. But the contrary is
not true: technique can never bring about creative understanding. 10
Present-day education is a complete failure because it has overemphasized
technique. In overemphasizing technique we destroy man. To cultivate capacity
and efficiency without understanding life, without having a comprehensive
perception of the ways of thought and desire, will only make us increasingly
ruthless, which is to engender wars and jeopardize our physical security. The
exclusive cultivation of technique has produced scientists, mathematicians,
bridge builders, space conquerors; but do they understand the total process of
life? Can any specialist experience life as a whole? Only when he ceases to be a
Technological progress does solve certain kinds of problems for some people
at one level, but it introduces wider and deeper issues too. To live at one level,
disregarding the total process of life, is to invite misery and destruction. The
greatest need and most pressing problem for every individual is to have an
integrated comprehension of life, which will enable him to meet its everincreasing
Technical knowledge, however necessary, will in no way resolve our inner,
psychological pressures and conflict; and it is because we have acquired
technical knowledge without understanding the total process of life that
technology has become a means of destroying ourselves. The man who knows
how to split the atom but has no love in his heart becomes a monster.
We choose a vocation according to our capacities; but will the following of a
vocation lead us out of conflict and confusion? Some form of technical training
seems necessary; but when we have become engineers, physicians, accountants
– then what? Is the practice of a profession the fulfilment of life? Apparently with
most of us it is. Our various professions may keep us busy for the greater part of
our existence; but the very things that we produce and are so entranced with are
causing destruction and misery. Our attitudes and values make of things and
occupations the instruments of envy, bitterness and hate. 11
Without understanding ourselves, mere occupation leads to frustration, with its
inevitable escapes through all kinds of mischievous activities. Technique without
understanding leads to enmity and ruthlessness, which we cover up with
pleasant-sounding phrases. Of what value is it to emphasize technique and
become efficient entities if the result is mutual destruction? Our technical
progress is fantastic, but it has only increased our powers of destroying one
another, and there is starvation and misery in every land. We are not peaceful
and happy people.
When function is all-important, life becomes dull and boring, a mechanical and
sterile routine from which we escape into every kind of distraction. The
accumulation of facts and the development of capacity, which we call education,
has deprived us of the fullness of integrated life and action. It is because we do
not understand the total process of life that we cling to capacity and efficiency,
which thus assume overwhelming importance. But the whole cannot be
understood through the part; it can be understood only through action and
Another factor in the cultivation of technique is that it gives us a sense of
security, not only economic, but psychological as well. It is reassuring to know
that we are capable and efficient. To know that we can play the piano or build a
house gives us a feeling of vitality, of aggressive independence; but to emphasize
capacity because of a desire for psychological security is to deny the fullness of
life. The whole content of life can never be foreseen, it must be experienced
anew from moment to moment; but we are afraid of the unknown, and so we
establish for ourselves psychological zones of safety in the form of systems,
techniques and beliefs. As long as we are seeking inward security, the total
process of life cannot be understood.
The right kind of education, while encouraging the learning of a technique,
should accomplish something which is of far greater importance: it should help 12
man to experience the integrated process of life. It is this experiencing that will
put capacity and technique in their right place. If one really has something to say,
the very saying of it creates its own style; but learning a style without inward
experiencing can only lead to superficiality.
Throughout the world, engineers are frantically designing machines which do
not need men to operate them. In a life run almost entirely by machines, what is
to become of human beings? We shall have more and more leisure without
knowing wisely how to employ it, and we shall seek escape through knowledge,
through enfeebling amusements, or through ideals.
I believe volumes have been written about educational ideals, yet we are in
greater confusion than ever before. There is no method by which to educate a
child to be integrated and free. As long as we are concerned with principles,
ideals and methods, we are not helping the individual to be free from his own self-
centred activity with all its fears and conflicts.
Ideals and blueprints for a perfect Utopia will never bring about the radical
change of heart which is essential if there is to be an end to war and universal
destruction. Ideals cannot change our present values: they can be changed only
by the right kind of education, which is to foster the understanding of what is.
When we are working together for an ideal, for the future, we shape
individuals according to our conception of that future; we are not concerned with
human beings at all, but with our idea of what they should be. The what should be
becomes far more important to us than what is, namely, the individual with his
complexities. If we begin to understand the individual directly instead of looking at
him through the screen of what we think he should be, then we are concerned
with what is. Then we no longer want to transform the individual into something
else; our only concern is to help him to understand himself, and in this there is no
personal motive or gain. If we are fully aware of what is, we shall understand it 13
and so be free of it; but to be aware of what we are, we must stop struggling after
something which we are not.
Ideals have no place in education for they prevent the comprehension of the
present. Surely, we can be aware of what is only when we do not escape into the
future. To look to the future, to strain after an ideal, indicates sluggishness of
mind and a desire to avoid the present.
Is not the pursuit of a ready-made Utopia a denial of the freedom and
integration of the individual? When one follows an ideal, a pattern, when one has
a formula for what should be, does one not live a very superficial, automatic life?
We need, not idealists or entities with mechanical minds, but integrated human
beings who are intelligent and free. Merely to have a design for a perfect society
is to wrangle and shed blood for what should be while ignoring what is.
If human beings were mechanical entities, automatic machines, then the
future would be predictable and the plans for a perfect Utopia could be drawn up;
then we would be able to plan carefully a future society and work towards it. But
human beings are not machines to be established according to a definite pattern.
Between now and the future there is an immense gap in which many
influences are at work upon each one of us, and in sacrificing the present for the
future we are pursuing wrong means to a probable right end. But the means
determine the end; and besides, who are we to decide what man should be? By
what right do we seek to mould him according to a particular pattern, learnt from
some book or determined by our own ambitions, hopes and fears?
The right kind of education is not concerned with any ideology, however much
it may promise a future Utopia: it is not based on any system, however carefully
thought out; nor is it a means of conditioning the individual in some special
manner. Education in the true sense is helping the individual to be mature and 14
free, to flower greatly in love and goodness. That is what we should be interested
in, and not in shaping the child according to some idealistic pattern.
Any method which classifies children according to temperament and aptitude
merely emphasizes their differences; it breeds antagonism, encourages divisions
in society and does not help to develop integrated human beings. It is obvious
that no method or system can provide the right kind of education, and strict
adherence to a particular method indicates sluggishness on the part of the
educator. As long as education is based on cut-and-dried principles, it can turn
out men and women who are efficient, but it cannot produce creative human
Only love can bring about the understanding of another. Where there is love
there is instantaneous communion with the other, on the same level and at the
same time. It is because we ourselves are so dry, empty and without love that we
have allowed governments and systems to take over the education of our
children and the direction of our lives; but governments want efficient technicians,
not human beings, because human beings become dangerous to governments –
and to organized religions as well. That is why governments and religious
organizations seek to control education.
Life cannot be made to conform to a system, it cannot be forced into a
framework, however nobly conceived; and a mind that has merely been trained in
factual knowledge is incapable of meeting life with its variety, its subtlety, its
depths and great heights. When we train our children according to a system of
thought or a particular discipline, when we teach them to think within
departmental divisions, we prevent them from growing into integrated men and
women, and therefore they are incapable of thinking intelligently, which is to meet
life as a whole. 15
The highest function of education is to bring about an integrated individual
who is capable of dealing with life as a whole. The idealist, like the specialist, is
not concerned with the whole, but only with a part. There can be no integration as
long as one is pursuing an ideal pattern of action; and most teachers who are
idealists have put away love, they have dry minds and hard hearts. To study a
child, one has to be alert, watchful, self-aware, and this demands far greater
intelligence and affection than to encourage him to follow an ideal. Another
function of education is to create new values. Merely to implant existing values in
the mind of the child, to make him conform to ideals, is to condition him without
awakening his intelligence. Education is intimately related to the present world
crisis, and the educator who sees the causes of this universal chaos should ask
himself how to awaken intelligence in the student, thus helping the coming
generation not to bring about further conflict and disaster. He must give all his
thought, all his care and affection to the creation of right environment and to the
development of understanding, so that when the child grows into maturity he will
be capable of dealing intelligently with the human problems that confront him. But
in order to do this, the educator must understand himself instead of relying on
ideologies, systems and beliefs.
Let us not think in terms of principles and ideals, but be concerned with things
as they are; for it is the consideration of what is that awakens intelligence, and
the intelligence of the educator is far more important than his knowledge of a new
method of education. When one follows a method, even if it has been worked out
by a thoughtful and intelligent person, the method becomes very important, and
the children are important only as they fit into it. One measures and classifies the
child, and then proceeds to educate him according to some chart. This process of
education may be convenient for the teacher, but neither the practice of a system
nor the tyranny of opinion and learning can bring about an integrated human
The right kind of education consists in understanding the child as he is without
imposing upon him an ideal of what we think he should be. To enclose him in the
framework of an ideal is to encourage him to conform, which breeds fear and
produces in him a constant conflict between what he is and what he should be;
and all inward conflicts have their outward manifestations in society. Ideals are an
actual hindrance to our understanding of the child and to the child’s
understanding of himself.
A parent who really desires to understand his child does not look at him
through the screen of an ideal. If he loves the child, he observes him, he studies
his tendencies, his moods and peculiarities. It is only when one feels no love for
the child that one imposes upon him an ideal, for then one’s ambitions are trying
to fulfil themselves in him, wanting him to become this or that. If one loves, not
the ideal, but the child, then there is a possibility of helping him to understand
himself as he is.
If a child tells lies, for example, of what value is it to put before him the ideal of
truth? One has to find out why he is telling lies. To help the child, one has to take
time to study and observe him, which demands patience, love and care; but when
one has no love, no understanding, then one forces the child into a pattern of
action which we call an ideal.
Ideals are a convenient escape, and the teacher who follows them is
incapable of understanding his students and dealing with them intelligently; for
him, the future ideal, the what should be, is far more important than the present
child. The pursuit of an ideal excludes love, and without love no human problem
can be solved.
If the teacher is of the right kind, he will not depend on a method, but will study
each individual pupil. In our relationship with children and young people, we are
not dealing with mechanical devices that can be quickly repaired, but with living 17
beings who are impressionable, volatile, sensitive, afraid, affectionate; and to
deal with them, we have to have great understanding, the strength of patience
and love. When we lack these, we look to quick and easy remedies and hope for
marvellous and automatic results. If we are unaware, mechanical in our attitudes
and actions, we fight shy of any demand upon us that is disturbing and that
cannot be met by an automatic response, and this is one of our major difficulties
The child is the result of both the past and the present and is therefore already
conditioned. If we transmit our background to the child, we perpetuate both his
and our own conditioning. There is radical transformation only when we
understand our own conditioning and are free of it. To discuss what should be the
right kind of education while we ourselves are conditioned is utterly futile.
While the children are young, we must of course protect them from physical
harm and prevent them from feeling physically insecure. But unfortunately we do
not stop there; we want to shape their ways of thinking and feeling, we want to
mould them in accordance with our own cravings and intentions. We seek to fulfil
ourselves in our children, to perpetuate ourselves through them. We build walls
around them, condition them by our beliefs and ideologies, fears and hopes – and
then we cry and pray when they are killed or maimed in wars, or otherwise made
to suffer by the experiences of life.
Such experiences do not bring about freedom; on the contrary, they
strengthen the will of the self. The self is made up of a series of defensive and
expansive reactions, and its fulfillment is always in its own projections and
gratifying identifications. As long as we translate experience in terms of the self,
of the «me» and the «mine,» as long as the «I,» the ego, maintains itself through its
reactions, experience cannot be freed from conflict, confusion and pain. Freedom
comes only when one understands the ways of the self, the experiencer. It is only 18
when the self, with its accumulated reactions, is not the experiencer, that
experience takes on an entirely different significance and becomes creation.
If we would help the child to be free from the ways of the self, which cause so
much suffering, then each one of us should set about altering deeply his attitude
and relationship to the child. Parents and educators, by their own thought and
conduct, can help the child to be free and to flower in love and goodness.
Education as it is at present in no way encourages the understanding of the
inherited tendencies and environmental influences which condition the mind and
heart and sustain fear, and therefore it does not help us to break through the
conditioning and bring about an integrated human being. Any form of education
that concerns itself with a part and not with the whole of man inevitably leads to
increasing conflict and suffering.
It is only in individual freedom that love and goodness can flower; and the right
kind of education alone can offer this freedom. Neither conformity to the present
society nor the promise of a future Utopia can ever give to the individual that
insight without which he is constantly creating problems.
The right kind of educator, seeing the inward nature of freedom, helps each
individual student to observe and understand his own self-projected values and
impositions; he helps him to become aware of the conditioning influences about
him, and of his own desires, both of which limit his mind and breed fear; he helps
him, as he grows to manhood, to observe and understand himself in relation to all
things, for it is the craving for self-fulfilment that brings endless conflict and
Surely, it is possible to help the individual to perceive the enduring values of
life, without conditioning. Some may say that this full development of the
individual will lead to chaos; but will it? There is already confusion in the world,
and it has arisen because the individual has not been educated to understand 19
himself. While he has been given some superficial freedom, he has also been
taught to conform, to accept the existing values.
Against this regimentation, many are revolting; but unfortunately their revolt is
a mere self-seeking reaction, which only further darkens our existence. The right
kind of educator, aware of the mind’s tendency to reaction, helps the student to
alter present values, not out of reaction against them, but through understanding
the total process of life. Full cooperation between man and man is not possible
without the integration which right education can help to awaken in the individual.
Why are we so sure that neither we nor the coming generation, through the
right kind of education, can bring about a fundamental alteration in human
relationship? We have never tried it; and as most of us seem to be fearful of the
right kind of education, we are disinclined to try it. Without really inquiring into this
whole question, we assert that human nature cannot be changed, we accept
things as they are and encourage the child to fit into the present society; we
condition him to our present ways of life, and hope for the best. But can such
conformity to present values, which lead to war and starvation, be considered
Let us not deceive ourselves that this conditioning is going to make for
intelligence and happiness. If we remain fearful, devoid of affection, hopelessly
apathetic, it means that we are really not interested in encouraging the individual
to flower greatly in love and goodness, but prefer that he carry on the miseries
with which we have burdened ourselves and of which he also is a part.
To condition the student to accept the present environment is quite obviously
stupid. Unless we voluntarily bring about a radical change in education, we are
directly responsible for the perpetuation of chaos and misery; and when some
mons and brutal revolution finally comes, it will only give opportunity to another
group of people to exploit and to be ruthless. Each group in power develops its 20
own means of oppression, whether through psychological persuasion or brute
For political and industrial reasons, discipline has become an important factor
in the present social structure, and it is because of our desire to be
psychologically secure that we accept and practise various forms of discipline.
Discipline guarantees a result, and to us the end is more important than the
means; but the means determine the end.
One of the dangers of discipline is that the system becomes more important
than the human beings who are enclosed in it. Discipline then becomes a
substitute for love, and it is because our hearts are empty that we cling to
discipline. Freedom can never come through discipline, through resistance;
freedom is not a goal, an end to be achieved. Freedom is at the beginning, not at
the end, it is not to be found in some distant ideal.
Freedom does not mean the opportunity for self-gratification or the setting
aside of consideration for others. The teacher who is sincere will protect the
children and help them in every possible way to grow towards the right kind of
freedom; but it will be impossible for him to do this if he himself is addicted to an
ideology, if he is in any way dogmatic or self-seeking.
Sensitivity can never be awakened through compulsion, One may compel a
child to be outwardly quiet, but one has not come face to face with that which is
making him obstinate, impudent, and so on. Compulsion breeds antago- nism
and fear. Reward and punishment in any form only make the mind subservient
and dull; and if this is what we desire, then education through compulsion is an
excellent way to proceed.
But such education cannot help us to understand the child, nor can it build a
right social environment in which separatism and hatred will cease to exist. In the
love of the child, right education is implied. But most of us do not love our 21
children; we are ambitious for them – which means that we are ambitious for
ourselves. Unfortunately, we are so busy with the occupations of the mind that we
have little time for the promptings of the heart. After all, discipline implies
resistance; and will resistance ever bring love? Discipline can only build walls
about us; it is always exclusive, ever making for conflict. Discipline is not
conducive to understanding; for understanding comes with observation, with
inquiry in which all prejudice is set aside.
Discipline is an easy way to control a child, but it does not help him to
understand the problems involved in living. Some form of compulsion, the
discipline of punishment and reward, may be necessary to maintain order and
seeming quietness among a large number of students herded together in a
classroom; but with the right kind of educator and a small number of students,
would any repression, politely called discipline, be required? If the classes are
small and the teacher can give his full attention to each child, observing and
helping him, then compulsion or domination in any form is obviously
unnecessary. If, in such a group, a student persists in disorderliness or is
unreasonably mischievous, the educator must inquire into the cause of his
misbehaviour, which may be wrong diet, lack of rest, family wrangles, or some
Implicit in right education is the cultivation of freedom and intelligence, which
is not possible if there is any form of compulsion, with its fears. After all, the
concern of the educator is to help the student to understand the complexities of
his whole being. To require him to suppress one part of his nature for the benefit
of some other part is to create in him an endless conflict which results in social
antagonisms. It is intelligence that brings order, not discipline.
Conformity and obedience have no place in the right kind of education.
Cooperation between teacher and student is impossible if there is no mutual
affection, mutual respect. When the showing of respect to elders is required of 22
children, it generally becomes a habit, a mere outward performance, and fear
assumes the form of veneration. Without respect and consideration, no vital
relationship is possible, especially when the teacher is merely an instrument of
If the teacher demands respect from his pupils and has very little for them, it
will obviously cause indifference and disrespect on their part. Without respect for
human life, knowledge only leads to destruction and misery. The cultivation of
respect for others is an essential part of right education, but if the educator
himself has not this quality, he cannot help his students to an integrated life.
Intelligence is discernment of the essential, and to discern the essential there
must be freedom from those hindrances which the mind projects in the search for
its own security and comfort. Fear is inevitable as long as the mind is seeking
security; and when human beings are regimented in any way, keen awareness
and intelligence are destroyed.
The purpose of education is to cultivate right relationship, not only between
individuals, but also between the individual and society; and that is why it is
essential that education should, above all, help the individual to understand his
own psychological process. Intelligence lies in understanding oneself and going
above and beyond oneself; but there cannot be intelligence as long as there is
fear. Fear perverts intelligence and is one of the causes of self-centred action.
Discipline may suppress fear but does not eradicate it, and the superficial
knowledge which we receive in modern education only further conceals it.
When we are young, fear is instilled into most of us both at home and at
school. Neither parents nor teachers have the patience, the time or the wisdom to
dispel the instinctive fears of childhood, which, as we grow up, dominate our
attitudes and judgment and create a great many problems. The right kind of
education must take into consideration this question of fear, because fear warps 23
our whole outlook on life. To be without fear is the beginning of wisdom, and only
the right kind of education can bring about the freedom from fear in which alone
there is deep and creative intelligence.
Reward or punishment for any action merely strengthens self-centredness.
Action for the sake of another, in the name of the country or of God, leads to fear,
and fear can- not be the basis for right action. If we would help a child to be
considerate of others, we should not use love as a bribe, but take the time and
have the patience to explain the ways of consideration.
There is no respect for another when there is a reward for it, for the bribe or
the punishment becomes far more significant than the feeling of respect. If we
have no respect for the child but merely offer him a reward or threaten him with
punishment, we are encouraging acquisitiveness and fear. Because we ourselves
have been brought up to act for the sake of a result, we do not see that there can
be action free of the desire to gain.
The right kind of education will encourage thoughtfulness and consideration
for others without enticements or threats of any kind. If we no longer seek
immediate results, we shall begin to see how important it is that both the educator
and the child should be free from the fear of punishment and the hope of reward,
and from every other form of compulsion; but compulsion will continue as long, as
authority is part of relationship.
To follow authority has many advantages if one thinks in terms of personal
motive and gain; but education based on individual advancement and profit can
only build a social structure which is competitive, antagonistic and ruthless. This
is the kind of society in which we have been brought up, and our animosity and
confusion are obvious.
We have been taught to conform to the authority of a teacher, of a book, of a
party, because it is profitable to do so. The specialists in every department of life, 24
from the priest to the bureaucrat, wield authority and dominate us; but any
government or teacher that uses compulsion can never bring about the
cooperation in relationship which is essential for the welfare of society.
If we are to have right relationship between human beings, there should be no
compulsion nor even persuasion. How can there be affection and genuine co-
operation between those who are in power and those who are subject to power?
By dispassionately considering this question of authority and its many
implications, by seeing that the very desire for power is in itself destructive, there
comes a spontaneous understanding of the whole process of authority. The
moment we discard authority we are in partnership, and only then is there
cooperation and affection.
The real problem in education is the educator. Even a small group of student
becomes the instrument of his personal importance if he uses authority as a
means of his own release, if teaching is for him a self-expansive fulfilment. But
mere intellectual or verbal agreement concerning the crippling effects of authority
is stupid and vain.
There must be deep insight into the hidden motivations of authority and
domination. If we see that intelligence can never be awakened through
compulsion, the very awareness of that fact will burn away our fears, and then we
shall begin to cultivate a new environment which will be contrary to and far
transcend the present social order.
To understand the significance of life with its conflicts and pain, we must think
independently of any authority, including the authority of organized religion; but if
in our desire to help the child we set before him authoritative examples, we shall
only be encouraging fear, imitation and various forms of superstition.
Those who are religiously inclined try to impose upon the child the beliefs,
hopes and fears which they in turn have acquired from their parents; and those 25
who are anti-religious are equally keen to influence the child to accept the
particular way of thinking which they happen to follow. We all want our children to
accept our form of worship or take to heart our chosen ideology. It is so easy to
get entangled in images and formulations, whether invented by ourselves or by
others, and therefore it is necessary to be ever watchful and alert.
What we call religion is merely organized belief, with its dogmas, rituals,
mysteries and superstitions. Each religion has its own sacred book, its mediator,
its priests and its ways of threatening and holding people. Most of us have been
conditioned to all this, which is considered religious education; but this
conditioning sets man against man, it creates antagonism, not only among the
believers, but also against those of other beliefs. Though all religions assert that
they worship God and say that we must love one another, they instill fear through
their doctrines of reward and punishment, and through their competitive dogmas
they perpetuate suspicion and antagonism.
Dogmas, mysteries and rituals are not conducive to a spiritual life. Religious
education in the true sense is to encourage the child to understand his own
relationship to people, to things and to nature. There is no existence without
relationship; and without self-knowledge, all relationship, with the one and with
the many, brings conflict and sorrow. Of course, to explain this fully to a child is
impossible; but if the educator and the parents deeply grasp the full significance
of relationship, then by their attitude, conduct and speech they will surely be able
to convey to the child, without too many words and explanations, the meaning of
a spiritual life.
Our so called religious training discourages questioning and doubt, yet it is
only when we inquire into the significance of the values which society and religion
have placed about us that we begin to find out what is true. It is the function of the
educator to examine deeply his own thoughts and feelings and to put aside those 26
values which have given him security and comfort, for only then can he help his
students to be self-aware and to understand their own urges and fears.
The time to grow straight and clear is when one is young; and those of us who
are older can, if we have understanding, help the young to free themselves from
the hindrances which society has imposed upon them, as well as from those
which they themselves are projecting. If the child’s mind and heart are not
moulded by religious preconceptions and prejudices, then he will be free to
discover through self-knowledge what is above and beyond himself.
True religion is not a set of beliefs and rituals, hopes and fears; and if we can
allow the child to grow up without these hindering influences, then perhaps, as he
matures, he will begin to inquire into the nature of reality, of God. That is why, in
educating a child, deep insight and understanding are necessary.
Most people who are religiously inclined, who talk about God and immortality,
do not fundamentally believe in individual freedom and integration; yet religion is
the cultivation of freedom in the search for truth. There can be no compromise
with freedom. Partial freedom for the individual is no freedom at all. Conditioning,
of any kind, whether political or religious, is not freedom and it will never bring
Religion is not a form of conditioning. It is a state of tranquillity in which there
is reality, God; but that creative state can come into being only when there is self-
knowledge and freedom. Freedom brings virtue, and without virtue there can be
no tranquillity. The still mind is not a conditioned mind, it is not disciplined or
trained to be still. Stillness comes only when the mind understands its own ways,
which are the ways of the self.
Organized religion is the frozen thought of man, out of which he builds temples
and churches; it has become a solace for the fearful, an opiate for those who are
in sorrow. But God or truth is far beyond thought and emotional demands. 27
Parents and teachers who recognize the psychological processes which build up
fear and sorrow should be able to help the young to observe and understand their
own conflicts and trials.
If we who are older can help the children, as they grow up, to think clearly and
dispassionately, to love and not to breed animosity, what more is there to do? But
if we are constantly at one another’s throats, if we are incapable of bringing about
order and peace in the world by deeply changing ourselves, of what value are the
sacred books and the myths of the various religions?
True religious education is to help the child to be intelligently aware, to discern
for himself the temporary and the real, and to have a disinterested approach to
life; and would it not have more meaning to begin each day at home or at school
with a serious thought, or with a reading that has depth and significance, rather
than mumble some oft-repeated words or phrases?
Past generations, with their ambitions, traditions and ideals, have brought
misery and destruction to the world; perhaps the coming generations, with the
right kind of education, can put an end to this chaos and build a happier social
order. If those who are young have the spirit of inquiry, if they are constantly
searching out the truth of all things, political and religious, personal and
environmental, then youth will have great significance and there is hope for a
Most children are curious, they want to know; but their eager inquiry is dulled
by our pontifical assertions, our superior impatience and our casual brushing
aside of their curiosity. We do not encourage their inquiry, for we are rather
apprehensive of what may be asked of us; we do not foster their discontent, for
we ourselves have ceased to question.
Most parents and teachers are afraid of discontent because it is disturbing to
all forms of security, and so they encourage the young to overcome it through 28
safe jobs, inheritance, marriage and the consolation of religious dogmas. Elders,
knowing only too well the many ways of blunting the mind and the heart, proceed
to make the child as dull as they are by impressing upon him the authorities,
traditions and beliefs which they themselves have accepted.
Only by encouraging the child to question the book, whatever it be, to inquire
into the validity of the existing social values, traditions, forms of government,
religious beliefs and so on, can the educator and the parents hope to awaken and
sustain his critical alertness and keen insight.
The young, if they are at all alive, are full of hope and discontent; they must
be, otherwise they are already old and dead. And the old are those who were
once discontented, but who have successfully smothered that flame and have
found security and comfort in various ways. They crave permanency for
themselves and their families, they ardently desire certainty in ideas, in
relationships, in possessions; so the moment they feel discontented, they
become absorbed in their responsibilities, in their jobs, or in anything else, in
order to escape from that disturbing feeling of discontent.
While we are young is the time to be discontented, not only with ourselves, but
also with the things about us. We should learn to think clearly and without bias,
so as not to be inwardly dependent and fearful. Independence is not for that
coloured section of the map which we call our country, but for ourselves as
individuals; and though outwardly we are dependent on one another, this mutual
dependence does not become cruel or oppressive if inwardly we are free of the
craving for power, position and authority.
We must understand discontent, of which most of us are afraid. Discontent
may bring what appears to be disorder; but if it leads, as it should, to self-
knowledge and self-abnegation, then it will create a new social order and
enduring peace. With self-abnegation comes immeasurable joy. 29
Discontent is the means to freedom; but in order to inquire without bias, there
must be none of the emotional dissipation which often takes the form of political
gatherings, the shouting of slogans, the search for a guru or spiritual teacher, and
religious orgies of different kinds. This dissipation dulls the mind and heart,
making them incapable of insight and therefore easily moulded by circumstances
and fear. It is the burning desire to inquire, and not the easy imitation of the
multitude, that will bring about a new understanding of the ways of life.
The young are so easily persuaded by the priest or the politician, by the rich or
the poor, to think in a particular way; but the right kind of education should help
them to be watchful of these influences so that they do not repeat slogans like
parrots or fall into any cunning trap of greed, whether their own or that of another.
They must not allow authority to stifle their minds and hearts. To follow another,
however great, or to give one’s adherence to a gratifying ideology, will not bring
about a peaceful world.
When we leave school or college, many of us put away books and seem to
feel that we are done with learning; and there are those who are stimulated to
think further afield, who keep on reading and absorbing what others have said,
and become addicted to knowledge. As long as there is the worship of knowledge
or technique as a means to success and dominance, there must be ruthless
competition, antagonism and the ceaseless struggle for bread.
As long as success is our goal we cannot be rid of fear, for the desire to
succeed inevitably breeds the fear of failure. That is why the young should not be
taught to worship success. Most people seek success in one form or another,
whether on the tennis court, in the business world, or in politics. We all want to be
on top, and this desire creates constant conflict within ourselves and with our
neighbours; it leads to competition, envy, animosity and finally to war. 30
Like the older generation, the young also seek success and security; though at
first they may be discontented, they soon become respectable and are afraid to
say no to society. The walls of their own desires begin to enclose them, and they
fall in line and assume the reins of authority. Their discontent, which is the very
flame of inquiry, of search, of understanding, grows dull and dies away, and in its
place there comes the desire for a better job, a rich marriage, a successful
career, all of which is the craving for more security.
There is no essential difference between the old and the young, for both are
slaves to their own desires and gratifications. Maturity is not a matter of age, it
comes with understanding. The ardent spirit of inquiry is perhaps easier for the
young, because those who are older have been battered about by life, conflicts
have worn them out and death in different forms awaits them. This does not
mean that they are incapable of purposive inquiry, but only that it is more difficult
Many adults are immature and rather childish, and this is a contributing cause
of the confusion and misery in the world. It is the older people who are
responsible for the prevailing economic and moral crisis; and one of our
unfortunate weaknesses is that we want someone else to act for us and change
the course of our lives. We wait for others to revolt and build anew, and we
remain inactive until we are assured of the outcome.
It is security and success that most of us are after; and a mind that is seeking
security, that craves success, is not intelligent, and is therefore incapable of
integrated action. There can be integrated action only if one is aware of one’s
own conditioning, of one’s racial, national, political and religious prejudices; that
is, only if one realizes that the ways of the self are ever separative.
Life is a well of deep waters. One can come to it with small buckets and draw
only a little water, or one can come with large vessels, drawing plentiful waters 31
that will nourish and sustain. While one is young is the time to investigate, to
experiment with everything. The school should help its young people to discover
their vocations and responsibilities, and not merely cram their minds with facts
and technical knowledge; it should be the soil in which they can grow without
fear, happily and integrally. To educate a child is to help him to understand
freedom and integration. To have freedom there must be order, which virtue
alone can give; and integration can take place only when there is great simplicity.
From innumerable complexities we must grow to simplicity; we must become
simple in our inward life and in our outward needs.
Education is at present concerned with outward efficiency, and it utterly
disregards, or deliberately perverts, the inward nature of man; it develops only
one part of him and leaves the rest to drag along as best it can. Our inner
confusion, antagonism and fear ever overcome the outer structure of society,
however nobly conceived and cunningly built. When there is not the right kind of
education we destroy one another, and physical security for every individual is
denied. To educate the student rightly is to help him to understand the total
process of himself; for it is only when there is integration of the mind and heart in
everyday action that there can be intelligence and inward transformation.
While offering information and technical training, education should above all
encourage an integrated outlook on life; it should help the student to recognize
and break down in himself all social distinctions and prejudices, and discourage
the acquisitive pursuit of power and domination. It should encourage the right
kind of self-observation and the experiencing of life as a whole, which is not to
give significance to the part, to the «me» and the»mine,» but to help the mind to go
above and beyond itself to discover the real. Freedom comes into being only
through self-knowledge in one’s daily occupations, that is, in one’s relationship
with people, with things, with ideas and with nature. If the educator is helping the
student to be integrated, there can be no fanatical or unreasonable emphasis on 32
any particular phase of life. It is the understanding of the total process of
existence that brings integration. When there is self-knowledge, the power of
creating illusions ceases, and only then is it possible for reality or God, to be.
Human beings must be integrated if they are to come out of any crisis, and
especially the present world crisis, without being broken; therefore, to parents
and teachers who are really interested in education, the main problem is how to
develop an integrated individual. To do this, the educator himself must obviously
be integrated; so the right kind of education is of the highest importance, not only
for the young, but also for the older generation if they are willing to learn and are
not too set in their ways. What we are in ourselves is much more important than
the additional question of what to teach the child, and if we love our children we
will see to it that they have the right kind of educators.
Teaching should not become a specialist’s profession. When it does, as is so
often the case, love fades away; and love is essential to the process of
integration. To be integrated there must be freedom from fear. Fearlessness
brings independence without ruthlessness, without contempt for another, and this
is the most essential factor in life. Without love we cannot work out our many
conflicting increases confusion and leads to self-destruction.
The integrated human being will come to technique through experiencing, for
the creative impulse makes its own technique – and that is the greatest art. When
a child has the creative impulse to paint, he paints, he does not bother about
technique. Likewise people who are experiencing, and therefore teaching, are the
only real teachers, and they too will create their own technique.
This sounds very simple, but it is really a deep revolution. If we think about it
we can see the extraordinary effect it will have on society. At present most of us
are washed out at the age of forty-five or fifty by slavery to routine; through
compliance, through fear and acceptance, we are finished, though we struggle on 33
in a society that has very little meaning except for those who dominate it and are
secure. If the teacher sees this and is himself really experiencing, then whatever
his temperament and capacities may be, his teaching will not be a matter of
routine but will become an instrument of help.
To understand a child we have to watch him at play, study him in his different
moods; we cannot project upon him our own prejudices, hopes and fears, or
mould him to fit the pattern of our desires. If we are constantly judging the child
according to our personal likes and dislikes, we are bound to create barriers and
hindrances in our relationship with him and in his relationships with the world.
Unfortunately, most of us desire to shape the child in a way that is gratifying to
our own vanities and idiosyncrasies; we find varying degrees of comfort and
satisfaction in exclusive ownership and domination.
Surely, this process is not relationship, but mere imposition, and it is therefore
essential to understand the difficult and complex desire to dominate. It takes
many subtle forms; and in its self-righteous aspect, it is very obstinate. The desire
to «serve» with the unconscious longing to dominate is difficult to understand. Can
there be love where there is possessiveness? Can we be in communion with
those whom we seek to control? To dominate is to use another for self-
gratification, and where there is the use of another there is no love.
When there is love there is consideration, not only for the children but for
every human being. Unless we are deeply touched by the problem, we will never
find the right way of education. Mere technical training inevitably makes for
ruthlessness, and to educate our children we must be sensitive to the whole
movement of life. What we think, what we do, what we say matters infinitely,
because it creates the environment, and the environment either helps or hinders
the child. 34
Obviously, then, those of us who are deeply interested in this problem will
have to begin to understand ourselves and thereby help to transform society; we
will make it our direct responsibility to bring about a new approach to education. If
we love our children, will we not find a way of putting an end to war? But if we are
merely using the word»love» without substance, then the whole complex problem
of human misery will remain. The way out of this problem lies through ourselves.
We must begin to understand our relationship with our fellow men, with nature,
with ideas and with things, for without that understanding there is no hope, there
is no way out of conflict and suffering.
The bringing up of a child requires intelligent observation and care. Experts
and their knowledge can never replace the parents’ love, but most parents corrupt
that love by their own fears and ambitions, which condition and distort the outlook
of the child. So few of us are concerned with love, but we are vastly taken up with
the appearance of love.
The present educational and social structure does not help the individual
towards freedom and integration; and if the parents are at all in earnest and
desire that the child shall grow to his fullest integral capacity, they must begin to
alter the influence of the home and set about creating schools with the right kind
The influence of the home and that of the school must not be in any way
contradictory, so both parents and teachers must re-educate themselves. The
contradiction which so often exists between the private life of the individual and
his life as a member of the group creates an endless battle within himself and in
This conflict is encouraged and sustained through the wrong kind of
education, and both governments and organized religions add to the confusion by
their contradictory doctrines. The child is divided within himself from the very 35
start, which results in personal and social disasters. If those of us who love our
children and see the urgency of this problem will set our minds and hearts to it,
then, however few we may be, through right education and an intelligent home
environment, we can help to bring about integrated human beings; but if, like so
many others, we fill our hearts with the cunning things of the mind, then we shall
continue to see our children destroyed in wars, in famines, and by their own
Right education comes with the transformation of ourselves. We must re-
educate ourselves not to kill one another for any cause, however righteous, for
any ideology, however promising it may appear to be for the future happiness of
the world. We must learn to be compassionate, to be content with little, and to
seek the Supreme, for only then can there be the true salvation of mankind. 36
Chapter 3: Intellect, Authority And Intelligence
MANY of us seem to think that by teaching every human being to read and
write, we shall solve our human problems; but this idea has proved to be false.
The so-called educated are not peace-loving, integrated people, and they too are
responsible for the confusion and misery of the world.
The right kind of education means the awakening of intelligence, the fostering
of an integrated life, and only such education can create a new culture and a
peaceful world; but to bring about this new kind of education, we must make a
fresh start on an entirely different basis.
With the world falling into ruin about us, we discuss theories and vain political
questions, and play with superficial reforms. Does this not indicate utter
thoughtlessness on our part? Some may agree that it does, but they will go on
doing exactly as they have always done – and that is the sadness of existence.
When we hear a truth and do not act upon it, it becomes a poison within
ourselves, and that poison spreads, bringing psychological disturbances,
unbalance and ill health. Only when creative intelligence is awakened in the
individual is there a possibility of a peaceful and happy life.
We cannot be intelligent by merely substituting one government for another,
one party or class for another, one exploiter for another. Bloody revolution can
never solve our problems. Only a profound inward revolution which alters all our
values can create a different environment, an intelligent social structure, and such
a revolution can be brought about only by you and me. No new order will arise
until we individually break down our own psychological barriers and are free.
On paper we can draw the blueprints for a brilliant Utopia, a brave new world;
but the sacrifice of the present to an unknown future will certainly never solve any
of our problems. There are so many elements intervening between now and the 37
future, that no man can know what the future will be. What we can and must do if
we are in earnest, is to tackle our problems now, and not postpone them to the
future. Eternity is not in the future; eternity is now. Our problems exist in the
present, and it is only in the present that they can be solved.
Those of us who are serious must regenerate ourselves; but there can be
regeneration only when we break away from those values which we have created
through our self-protective and aggressive desires. Self-knowledge is the
beginning of freedom, and it is only when we know ourselves that we can bring
about order and peace. Now, some may ask, `What can a single individual do
that will affect history? Can he accomplish anything at all by the way he lives?»
Certainly he can. You and I are obviously not going to stop the immediate wars,
or create an instantaneous understanding between nations; but at least we can
bring about, in the world of our everyday relationships, a fundamental change
which will have its own effect.
Individual enlightenment does affect large groups of people, but only if one is
not eager for results. If one thinks in terms of gain and effect, right transformation
of oneself is not possible.
Human problems are not simple, they are very complex. To understand them
requires patience and insight, and it is of the highest importance that we as
individuals understand and resolve them for ourselves. They are not to be
understood through easy formulas or slogans; nor can they be solved at their own
level by specialists working along a particular line, which only leads to further
confusion and misery. Our many problems can be understood and resolved only
when we are aware of ourselves as a total process, that is, when we understand
our whole psychological make-up; and no religious or political leader can give us
the key to that understanding. 38
To understand ourselves, we must be aware of our relationship, not only with
people, but also with property, with ideas and with nature. If we are to bring about
a true revolution in human relationship, which is the basis of all society, there
must be a fundamental change in our own values and outlook; but we avoid the
necessary and fundamental transformation of ourselves, and try to bring about
political revolutions in the world, which always leads to bloodshed and disaster.
Relationship based on sensation can never be a means of release from the
self; yet most of our relationships are based on sensation, they are the outcome
of our desire for personal advantage, for comfort, for psychological security.
Though they may offer us a momentary escape from the self, such relationships
only give strength to the self, with its enclosing and binding activities.
Relationship is a mirror in which the self and all its activities can be seen; and it is
only when the ways of the self are understood in the reactions of relationship that
there is creative release from the self.
To transform the world, there must be regeneration within ourselves. Nothing
can be achieved by violence, by the easy liquidation of one another. We may find
a temporary release by joining groups, by studying methods of social and
economic reform, by enacting legislation, or by praying; but do what we will,
without self-knowledge and the love that is inherent in it, our problems will ever
expand and multiply. Whereas, if we apply our minds and hearts to the task of
knowing ourselves, we shall undoubtedly solve our many conflicts and sorrows.
Modern education is making us into thoughtless entities; it does very little
towards helping us to find our individual vocation. We pass certain examinations
and then, with luck, we get a job – which often means endless routine for the rest
of our life. We may dislike our job, but we are forced to continue with it because
we have no other means of livelihood. We may want to do something entirely
different, but commitments and responsibilities hold us down, and we are hedged 39
in by our own anxieties and fears. Being frustrated, we seek escape through sex,
drink, politics or fanciful religion.
When our ambitions are thwarted, we give undue importance to that which
should be normal, and we develop a psychological twist. Until we have a
comprehensive understanding of our life and love, of our political, religious and
social desires, with their demands and hindrances, we shall have everincreasing
problems in our relationships, leading us to misery and destruction.
Ignorance is lack of knowledge of the ways of the self, and this ignorance
cannot be dissipated by superficial activities and reforms; it can be dissipated
only by one’s constant awareness of the movements and responses of the self in
all its relationships.
What we must realize is that we are not only conditioned by environment, but
that we are the environment – we are not something apart from it. Our thoughts
and responses are conditioned by the values which society, of which we are a
part, has imposed upon us.
We never see that we are the total environment because there are several
entities in us, all revolving around the `me’, the self. The self is made up of these
entities, which are merely desires in various forms. From this conglomeration of
desires arises the central figure, the thinker, the will of the»me» and the «mine;
and a division is thus established between the self and the not-self, between
the»me» and the environment or society. This separation is the beginning of
conflict, inward and outward.
Awareness of this whole process, both the conscious and the hidden, is
meditation; and through this meditation the self, with its desires and conflicts, is
transcended. Self-knowledge is necessary if one is to be free of the influences
and values that give shelter to the self; and in this freedom alone is there
creation, truth, God, or what you will. 40
Opinion and tradition mould our thoughts and feelings from the tenderest age.
The immediate influences and impressions produce an effect which is powerful
and lasting, and which shapes the whole course of our conscious and
unconscious life. Conformity begins in childhood through education and the
impact of society.
The desire to imitate is a very strong factor in our life, not only at the
superficial levels, but also profoundly. We have hardly any independent thoughts
and feelings. When they do occur, they are mere reactions, and are therefore not
free from the established pattern; for there is no freedom in reaction.
Philosophy and religion lay down certain methods whereby we can come to
the realization of truth or God; yet merely to follow a method is to remain
thoughtless and unintegrated, however beneficial the method may seem to be in
our daily social life. The urge to conform, which is the desire for security, breeds
fear and brings to the fore the political and religious authorities, the leaders and
heroes who encourage subservience and by whom we are subtly or grossly
dominated; but not to conform is only a reaction against authority, and in no way
helps us to become integrated human beings. Reaction is endless, it only leads to
Conformity, with its undercurrent of fear, is a hindrance; but mere intellectual
recognition of this fact will not resolve the hindrance. It is only when we are aware
of hindrances with our whole being that we can be free of them without creating
further and deeper blockages.
When we are inwardly dependent, then tradition has a great hold on us; and a
mind that thinks along traditional lines cannot discover that which is new. By
conforming we become mediocre imitators, cogs in a cruel social machine. It is
what we think that matters, not what others want us to think. When we conform to
tradition, we soon become mere copies of what we should be. 41
This imitation of what we should be, breeds fear; and fear kills creative
thinking. Fear dulls the mind and heart so that we are not alert to the whole
significance of life; we become insensitive to our own sorrows, to the movement
of the birds, to the smiles and miseries of others.
Conscious and unconscious fear has many different causes, and it needs alert
watchfulness to be rid of them all. Fear cannot be eliminated through discipline,
sublimation, or through any other act of will: its causes have to be searched out
and understood. This needs patience and an awareness in which there is no
judgment of any kind.
It is comparatively easy to understand and dissolve our conscious fears. But
unconscious fears are not even discovered by most of us, for we do not allow
them to come to the surface; and when on rare occasions they do come to the
surface, we hasten to cover them up, to escape from them. Hidden fears often
make their presence known through dreams and other forms of intimation, and
they cause greater deterioration and conflict than do the superficial fears.
Our lives are not just on the surface, their greater part is concealed from
casual observation. If we would have our obscure fears come into the open and
dissolve, the conscious mind must be somewhat still, not everlastingly occupied;
then, as these fears come to the surface, they must be observed without let or
hindrance, for any form of condemnation or justification only strengthens fear. To
be free from all fear, we must be awake to its darkening influence, and only
constant watchfulness can reveal its many causes.
One of the results of fear is the acceptance of authority in human affairs.
Authority is created by our desire to be right, to be secure, to be comfortable, to
have no conscious conflicts or disturbances; but nothing which results from fear
can help us to understand our problems, even though fear may take the form of
respect and submission to the so-called wise. The wise wield no authority, and 42
those in authority are not wise. Fear in whatever form prevents the understanding
of ourselves and of our relationship to all things.
The following of authority is the denial of intelligence. To accept authority is to
submit to domination to sub- jugate oneself to an individual, to a group, or to an
ideology, whether religious or political; and this subjugation of oneself to authority
is the denial, not only of intelligence, but also of individual freedom. Compliance
with a creed or a system of ideas is a self-protective reaction. The acceptance of
authority may help us temporarily to cover up our difficulties and problems; but to
avoid a problem is only to intensify it, and in the process, self-knowledge and
freedom are abandoned.
How can there be compromise between freedom and the acceptance of
authority? If there is compromise, then those who say they are seeking self-
knowledge and freedom are not earnest in their endeavour. We seem to think
that freedom is an ultimate end, a goal, and that in order to become free we must
first submit ourselves to various forms of suppression and intimidation. We hope
to achieve freedom through conformity; but are not the means as important as the
end? Do not the means shape the end?
To have peace, one must employ peaceful means; for if the means are violent,
how can the end be peaceful? If the end is freedom, the beginning must be free,
for the end and the beginning are one. There can be self-knowledge and
intelligence only when there is freedom at the very outset; and freedom is denied
by the acceptance of authority.
We worship authority in various forms: knowledge, success, power, and so on.
We exert authority on the young, and at the same time we are afraid of superior
authority. When man himself has no inward vision, outward power and position
assume vast importance, and then the indi- vidual is more and more subject to
authority and compulsion, he becomes the instrument of others. We can see this 43
process going on around us: in moments of crisis, the democratic nations act like
the totalitarian, forgetting their democracy and forcing man to conform.
If we can understand the compulsion behind our desire to dominate or to be
dominated, then perhaps we can be free from the crippling effects of authority.
We crave to be certain, to be right, to be successful, to know; and this desire for
certainty, for permanence, builds up within ourselves the authority of personal
experience, while outwardly it creates the authority of society, of the family, of
religion, and so on. But merely to ignore authority, to shake off its outward
symbols, is of very little significance.
To break away from one tradition and conform to another, to leave this leader
and follow that, is but a superficial gesture. If we are to be aware of the whole
process of authority, if we are to see the inwardness of it, if we are to understand
and transcend the desire for certainty, then we must have extensive awareness
and insight, we must be free, not at the end, but at the beginning.
The craving for certainty, for security is one of the major activities of the self,
and it is this compelling urge that has to be constantly watched, and not merely
twisted or forced in another direction, or made to conform to a desired pattern.
The self, the «me» and the «mine,» is very strong in most of us; sleeping or
waking, it is ever alert, always strengthening itself. But when there is an
awareness of the self and a realization that all its activities, however subtle, must
inevitably lead to conflict and pain, then the craving for certainty, for self-
continuance comes to an end. One has to be constantly watchful for the self to
reveal its ways and tricks; but when we begin to understand them, and to
understand the implications of authority and all that is involved in our acceptance
and denial of it, then we are already disentangling ourselves from authority.
As long as the mind allows itself to be dominated and controlled by the desire
for its own security, there can be no release from the self and its problems; and 44
that is why there is no release from the self through dogma and organized belief,
which we call religion. Dogma and belief are only projections of our own mind.
The rituals, the puja, the accepted forms of meditation, the constantly-repeated
words and phrases, though they may produce certain gratifying responses, do not
free the mind from the self and its activities; for the self is essentially the outcome
In moments of sorrow, we turn to what we call God, which is but an image of
our own minds; or we find gratifying explanations, and this gives us temporary
comfort. The religions that we follow are created by our hopes and fears, by our
desire for inward security and reassurance; and with the worship of authority,
whether it is that of a saviour, a master or a priest, there come submission,
acceptance and imitation. So, we are exploited in the name of God, as we are
exploited in the name of parties and ideologies – and we go on suffering.
We are all human beings, by whatever name we may call ourselves, and
suffering is our lot. Sorrow is common to all of us, to the idealist and to the
materialist. Idealism is an escape from what is, and materialism is another way of
denying the measureless depths of the present. Both the idealist and the
materialist have their own ways of avoiding the complex problem of suffering;
both are consumed by their own cravings, ambitions and conflicts, and their ways
of life are not conducive to tranquillity. They are both responsible for the
confusion and misery of the world.
Now, when we are in a state of conflict, of suffering, there is no
comprehension: in that state, however cunningly and carefully thought out our
action may be, it can only lead to further confusion and sorrow. To understand
conflict and so to be free from it, there must be an awareness of the ways of the
conscious and of the unconscious mind. 45
No idealism, no system or pattern of any kind, can help us to unravel the deep
workings of the mind; on the contrary, any formulation or conclusion will hinder
their discovery. The pursuit of what should be, the attachment to principles, to
ideals, the establishment of a goal – all this leads to many illusions. If we are to
know ourselves, there must be a certain spontaneity, a freedom to observe, and
this is not possible when the mind is enclosed in the superficial, in idealistic or
Existence is relationship; and whether we belong to an organized religion or
not, whether we are worldly or caught up in ideals, our suffering can be resolved
only through the understanding of ourselves in relationship. Self-knowledge alone
can bring tranquillity and happiness to man, for self-knowledge is the beginning of
intelligence and integration. Intelligence is not mere superficial adjustment; it is
not the cultivation of the mind, the acquisition of knowledge. Intelligence is the
capacity to understand the ways of life, it is the perception of right values.
Modern education, in developing the intellect, offers more and more theories
and facts, without bringing about the understanding of the total process of human
existence. We are highly intellectual; we have developed cunning minds, and are
caught up in explanations. The intellect is satisfied with theories and
explanations, but intelligence is not; and for the understanding of the total
process of existence, there must be an integration of the mind and heart in action.
Intelligence is not separate from love.
For most of us, to accomplish this inward revolution is extremely arduous. We
know how to meditate, how to play the piano, how to write, but we have no
knowledge of the meditator, the player, the writer. We are not creators, for we
have filled our hearts and minds with knowledge, information and arrogance; we
are full of quotations from what others have thought or said. But experiencing
comes first, not the way of experiencing. There must be love before there can be
the expression of love. 46
It is clear, then, that merely to cultivate the intellect, which is to develop
capacity or knowledge, does not result in intelligence. There is a distinction
between intellect and intelligence. Intellect is thought functioning independently of
emotion, whereas, intelligence is the capacity to feel as well as to reason; and
until we approach life with intelligence, instead of intellect alone, or with emotion
alone, no political or educational system in the world can save us from the toils of
chaos and destruction.
Knowledge is not comparable with intelligence, knowledge is not wisdom.
Wisdom is not marketable, it is not a merchandise that can be bought with the
price of learning or discipline. Wisdom cannot be found in books; it cannot be
accumulated, memorized or stored up. Wisdom comes with the abnegation of the
self. To have an open mind is more important than learning; and we can have an
open mind, not by cramming it full of information, but by being aware of our own
thoughts and feelings, by carefully observing ourselves and the influences about
us, by listening to others, by watching the rich and the poor, the powerful and the
lowly. Wisdom does not come through fear and oppression, but through the
observation and understanding of everyday incidents in human relationship.
In our search for knowledge, in our acquisitive desires, we are losing love, we
are blunting the feeling for beauty, the sensitivity to cruelty; we are becoming
more and more specialized and less and less integrated. Wisdom cannot be
replaced by knowledge, and no amount of explanation, no accumulation of facts,
will free man from suffering. Knowledge is necessary, science has its place; but if
the mind and heart are suffocated by knowledge, and if the cause of suffering is
explained away, life becomes vain and meaningless. And is this not what is
happening to most of us? Our education is making us more and more shallow; it
is not helping us to uncover the deeper layers of our being, and our lives are
increasingly disharmonious and empty. 47
Information, the knowledge of facts, though ever increas- ing, is by its very
nature limited. Wisdom is infinite, it includes knowledge and the way of action; but
we take hold of a branch and think it is the whole tree. Through the knowledge of
the part, we can never realize the joy of the whole. Intellect can never lead to the
whole, for it is only a segment, a part.
We have separated intellect from feeling, and have developed intellect at the
expense of feeling. We are like a three-legged object with one leg much longer
than the others, and we have no balance. We are trained to be intellectual; our
education cultivates the intellect to be sharp, cunning, acquisitive, and so it plays
the most important role in our life. Intelligence is much greater than intellect, for it
is the integration of reason and love; but there can be intelligence only when
there is self-knowledge, the deep understanding of the total process of oneself.
What is essential for man, whether young or old, is to live fully, integrally, and
that is why our major problem is the cultivation of that intelligence which brings
integration. Undue emphasis on any part of our total make-up gives a partial and
therefore distorted view of life, and it is this distortion which is causing most of our
difficulties. Any partial development of our whole temperament is bound to be
disastrous both for ourselves and for society, and so it is really very important that
we approach our human problems with an integrated point of view.
To be an integrated human being is to understand the entire process of one’s
own consciousness, both the hidden and the open. This is not possible if we give
undue emphasis to the intellect. We attach great importance to the cultivation of
the mind, but inwardly we are insufficient, poor and confused. This living in the
intellect is the way of disintegration; for ideas, like beliefs, can never bring people
together except in conflicting groups.
As long as we depend on thought as a means of integration, there must be
disintegration; and to understand the disintegrating action of thought is to be 48
aware of the ways of the self, the ways of one’s own desire. We must be aware of
our conditioning and its responses, both collective and personal. It is only when
one is fully aware of the activities of the self with its contradictory desires and
pursuits, its hopes and fears, that there is a possibility of going beyond the self.
Only love and right thinking will bring about true revolution, the revolution
within ourselves. But how are we to have love? Not through the pursuit of the
ideal of love, but only when there is no hatred, when there is no greed, when the
sense of self, which is the cause of antagonism, comes to an end. A man who is
caught up in the pursuits of exploitation, of greed, of envy, can never love.
Without love and right thinking, oppression and cruelty will ever be on the
increase. The problem of man’s antagonism to man can be solved, not by
pursuing the ideal of peace, but by understanding the causes of war which lie in
our attitude towards life, towards our fellow-beings; and this understanding can
come about only through the right kind of education. Without a change of heart,
without goodwill, without the inward transformation which is born of self-
awareness, there can be no peace, no happiness for men. 49
Chapter 4: Education And World Peace
TO DISCOVER what part education can play in the present world crisis, we
should understand how that crisis has come into being. It is obviously the result of
wrong values in our relationship to people, to property and to ideas. If our
relationship with others is based on self-aggrandizement, and our relationship to
property is acquisitive, the structure of society is bound to be competitive and
self-isolating. If in our relationship with ideas we justify one ideology in opposition
to another, mutual distrust and ill will are the inevitable results.
Another cause of the present chaos is dependence on authority, on leaders,
whether in daily life, in the small school or in the university. Leaders and their
authority are deteriorating factors in any culture. When we follow another there is
no understanding, but only fear and conformity, eventually leading to the cruelty
of the totalitarian State and the dogmatism of organized religion.
To rely on governments, to look to organizations and authorities for that peace
which must begin with the under- standing of ourselves, is to create further and
still greater conflict; and there can be no lasting happiness as long as we accept
a social order in which there is endless strife and antagonism between man and
man. If we want to change existing conditions, we must first transform ourselves,
which means that we must become aware of our own actions, thoughts and
feelings in everyday life.
But we do not really want peace, we do not want to put an end to exploitation.
We will not allow our greed to be interfered with, or the foundations of our present
social structure to be altered; we want things to continue as they are with only
superficial modifications, and so the powerful, the cunning inevitably rule our
Peace is not achieved through any ideology, it does not depend on legislation;
it comes only when we as individuals begin to understand our own psychological
process. If we avoid the responsibility of acting individually and wait for some new
system to establish peace, we shall merely become the slaves of that system.
When governments, dictators, big business and the clerically powerful begin to
see that this increasing antagonism between men only leads to indiscriminate
destruction and is therefore no longer profitable, they may force us, through
legislation and other means of compulsion, to suppress our personal cravings
and ambitions and to co-operate for the well-being of mankind. just as we are
now educated and encouraged to be competitive and ruthless, so then we shall
be compelled to respect one another and to work for the world as a whole. And
even though we may all be well fed, clothed and sheltered, we shall not be free of
our conflicts and antagonisms, which will merely have shifted to another plane,
where they will be still more diabolical and devastating. The only moral or
righteous action is voluntary, and understanding alone can bring peace and
happiness to man.
Beliefs, ideologies and organized religions are setting us against our
neighbours; there is conflict, not only among different societies, but among
groups within the same society. We must realize that as long as we identify
ourselves with a country, as long as we cling to security, as long as we are
conditioned by dogmas, there will be strife and misery both within ourselves and
in the world.
Then there is the whole question of patriotism. When do we feel patriotic? It is
obviously not an everyday emotion. But we are sedulously encouraged to be
patriotic through school-books, through newspapers and other channels of
propaganda, which stimulate racial egotism by praising national heroes and
telling us that our own country and way of life are better than others. This patriotic
spirit feeds our vanity from childhood to old age. 51
The constantly repeated assertion that we belong to a certain political or
religious group, that we are of this nation or of that, flatters our little egos, puffs
them out like sails, until we are ready to kill or be killed for our country, race or
ideology. It is all so stupid and unnatural. Surely, human beings are more
important than national and ideological boundaries.
The separative spirit of nationalism is spreading like fire all over the world.
Patriotism is cultivated and cleverly exploited by those who are seeking further
expansion, wider powers, greater enrichment; and each one of us takes part in
this process, for we also desire these things. Conquering other lands and other
people provides new markets for goods as well as for political and religious
One must look at all these expressions of violence and antagonism with an
unprejudiced mind, that is, with a mind that does not identify itself with any
country, race or ideology, but tries to find out what is true. There is great joy in
seeing a thing clearly without being influenced by the notions and instructions of
others, whether they be the government, the specialists or the very learned. Once
we really see that patriotism is a hindrance to human happiness, we do not have
to struggle against this false emotion in ourselves, it has gone from us forever.
Nationalism, the patriotic spirit, class and race consciousness, are all ways of
the self, and therefore separative. After all, what is a nation but a group of
individuals living together for economic and self-protective reasons ? Out of fear
and acquisitive self defence arises the idea of `my country,» with its boundaries
and tariff walls, rendering brotherhood and the unity of man impossible.
The desire to gain and to hold, the longing to be identified with something
greater than ourselves, creates the spirit of nationalism; and nationalism breeds
war. In every country the government, encouraged by organized religion, is
upholding nationalism and the separative spirit. Nationalism is a disease, and it 52
can never bring about world unity. We can not attain health through disease, we
must first free ourselves from the disease.
It is because we are nationalists, ready to defend our sovereign States, our
beliefs and acquisitions, that we must be perpetually armed. Property and ideas
have become more important to us than human life, so there is constant
antagonism and violence between ourselves and others. By maintaining the
sovereignty of our country, we are destroying our sons; by worshipping the State,
which is but a projection of ourselves, we are sacrificing our children to our own
gratification. Nationalism and sovereign governments are the causes and the
instruments of war.
Our present social institutions cannot evolve into a world federation, for their
very foundations are unsound. Parliaments and systems of education which
uphold national sovereignty and emphasize the importance of the group will
never bring war to an end. Every separate group of people, with its rulers and its
ruled, is a source of war. As long as we do not fundamentally alter the present
relationship between man and man, industry will inevitably lead to confusion and
become an instrument of destruction and misery; as long as there is violence and
tyranny, deceit and propaganda, the brotherhood of man cannot be realized.
Merely to educate people to be wonderful engineers, brilliant scientists,
capable executives, able workmen, will never bring the oppressors and the
oppressed together; and we can see that our present system of education, which
sustains the many causes that breed enmity and hatred between human beings,
has not prevented mass murder in the name of one’s country or in the name of
Organized religions, with their temporal and spiritual authority, are equally
incapable of bringing peace to man, for they also are the outcome of our
ignorance and fear, of our make-believe and egotism. 53
Craving security here or in the hereafter, we create institutions and ideologies
which guarantee that security; but the more we struggle for security, the less we
shall have it. The desire to be secure only fosters division and increases
antagonism. If we deeply feel and understand the truth of this, not merely verbally
or intellectually, but with our whole being, then we shall begin to alter
fundamentally our relationship with our fellow men in the immediate world about
us; and only then is there a possibility of achieving unity and brotherhood.
Most of us are consumed by all sorts of fears, and are greatly concerned
about our own security. We hope that, by some miracle, wars will come to an
end, all the while accusing other national groups of being the instigators of war,
as they in turn blame us for the disaster. Although war is so obviously detrimental
to society, we prepare for war and develop in the young the military spirit.
But has military training any place in education? It all depends on what kind of
human beings we want our children to be. If we want them to be efficient killers,
then military training is necessary. If we want to discipline them and regiment
their minds, if our purpose is to make them nationalistic and therefore
irresponsible to society as a whole, then military training is a good way to do it. If
we like death and destruction, military training is obviously important. It is the
function of generals to plan and carry on war; and if our intention is to have
constant battle between ourselves and our neighbours, then by all means let us
have more generals.
If we are living only to have endless strife within ourselves and with others, if
our desire is to perpetuate bloodshed and misery, then there must be more
soldiers, more politicians, more enmity – which is what is actually happening.
Modern civilization is based on violence, and is therefore courting death. As long
as we worship force, violence will be our way of life. But if we want peace, if we
want right relationship among men, whether Christian or Hindu, Russian or 54
American, if we want our children to be integrated human beings, then military
training is an absolute hindrance, it is the wrong way to set about it.
One of the chief causes of hatred and strife is the belief that a particular class
or race is superior to another. The child is neither class nor race conscious; it is
the home or school environment, or both, which makes him feel separative. In
himself he does not care whether his playmate is a Negro or a Jew, a Brahmin or
a non-Brahmin; but the influence of the whole social structure is continually
impinging on his mind, affecting and shaping it.
Here again the problem is not with the child but with the adults, who have
created a senseless environment of separatism and false values.
What real basis is there for differentiating between human beings? Our bodies
may be different in structure and colour, our faces may be dissimilar, but inside
the skin we are very much alike: proud, ambitious, envious, violent, sexual,
power-seeking and so on. Remove the label and we are very naked; but we do
not want to face our nakedness, and so we insist on the label – which indicates
how immature, how really infantile we are.
To enable the child to grow up free from prejudice, one has first to break down
all prejudice within oneself, and then in one’s environment – which means
breaking down the structure of this thoughtless society which we have created. At
home we may tell the child how absurd it is to be conscious of one’s class or
race, and he will probably agree with us; but when he goes to school and plays
with other children, he becomes contaminated by the separative spirit. Or it may
be the other way around: the home may be traditional, narrow, and the school’s
influence may be broader. In either case there is a constant battle between the
home and the school environments. and the child is caught between the two.
To raise a child sanely, to help him to be perceptive so that he sees through
these stupid prejudices, we have to be in close relationship with him. We have to 55
talk things over and let him listen to intelligent conversation; we have to
encourage the spirit of inquiry and discontent which is already in him, thereby
helping him to discover for himself what is true and what is false.
It is constant inquiry, true dissatisfaction, that brings creative intelligence; but
to keep inquiry and discontent awake is extremely arduous, and most people do
not want their children to have this kind of intelligence, for it is very uncomfortable
to live with someone who is constantly questioning accepted values.
All of us are discontented when we are young, but unfortunately our discontent
soon fades away, smothered by our imitative tendencies and our worship of
authority. As we grow older, we begin to crystallize, to be satisfied and
apprehensive. We become executives, priests, bank clerks, factory managers,
technicians, and slow decay sets in. Because we desire to maintain our positions,
we support the destructive society,which has placed us there and given us some
measure of security.
Government control of education is a calamity. There is no hope of peace and
order in the world as long as education is the handmaid of the state or of
organized religion. Yet more and more governments are taking charge of the
children and their future; and if it is not the government, then it is the religious
organizations which seek to control education.
This conditioning of the child’s mind to fit a particular ideology, whether
political or religious, breeds enmity between man and man. In a competitive
society we cannot have brotherhood, and no reform, no dictatorship, no
educational method can bring it about.
As long as you remain a New Zealander and I a Hindu, it is absurd to talk
about the unity of man. How can we get together as human beings if you in your
country, and I in mine, retain our respective religious prejudices and eco- nomic
ways? How can there be brotherhood as long as patriotism is separating man 56
from man, and millions are restricted by depressed economic conditions while
others are well off? How can there be human unity when beliefs divide us, when
there is domination of one group by another, when the rich are powerful and the
poor are seeking that same power, when there is maldistribution of land, when
some are well fed and multitudes are starving?
One of our difficulties is that we are not really in earnest about these matters,
because we do not want to be greatly disturbed. We prefer to alter things only in
a manner advantageous to ourselves, and so we are not deeply concerned about
our own emptiness and cruelty.
Can we ever attain peace through violence? Is peace to be achieved
gradually, through a slow process of time? Surely, love is not a matter of training
or of time. The last two wars were fought for democracy, I believe; and now we
are preparing for a still greater and more destructive war, and people are less
free. But what would happen if we were to put aside such obvious hindrances to
understanding as authority, belief, nationalism and the whole hierarchical spirit?
We would be people without authority, human beings in direct relationship with
one another – and then, perhaps, there would be love and compassion.
What is essential in education, as in every other field, is to have people who
are understanding and affectionate, whose hearts are not filled with empty
phrases, with the things of the mind.
If life is meant to be lived happily, with thought, with ourselves; and if we wish
to build a truly enlightened society, we must have educators who understand the
ways of integration and who are therefore capable of imparting that
understanding to the child.
Such educators would be a danger to the present structure of society. But we
do not really want to build an enlightened society; and any teacher who,
perceiving the full implications of peace, began to point out the true significance 57
of nationalism and the stupidity of war, would soon lose his position. Knowing
this, most teachers compromise, and thereby help to maintain the present system
of exploitation and violence.
Surely, to discover truth, there must be freedom from strife, both within
ourselves and with our neighbours. When we are not in conflict within ourselves,
we are not in conflict outwardly. It is the inward strife which, projected outwardly,
becomes the world conflict.
War is the spectacular and bloody projection of our everyday living. We
precipitate war out of our daily lives; and without a transformation in ourselves,
there are bound to be national and racial antagonisms, the childish quarrelling
over ideologies, the multiplication of soldiers, the saluting of flags, and all the
many brutalities that go to create organized murder.
Education throughout the world has failed, it has produced mounting
destruction and misery. Governments are training the young to be the efficient
soldiers and technicians they need; regimentation and prejudice are being cul-
tivated and enforced. Taking these facts into consideration, we have to inquire
into the meaning of existence and the significance and purpose of our lives. We
have to discover the beneficent ways of creating a new environment; for
environment can make the child a brute, an unfeeling specialist, or help him to
become a sensitive, intelligent human being. We have to create a world
government which is radically different, which is not based on nationalism, on
ideologies, on force.
All this implies the understanding of our responsibility to one another in
relationship; but to understand our responsibility, there must be love in our hearts,
not mere learning or knowledge. The greater our love, the deeper will be its
influence on society. But we are all brains and no heart; we cultivate the intellect 58
and despise humility. If we really loved our children, we would want to save and
protect them, we would not let them be sacrificed in wars.
I think we really want arms; we like the show of military power, the uniforms,
the rituals, the drinks, the noise, the violence. Our everyday life is a reflection in
miniature of this same brutal superficiality, and we are destroying one another
through envy and thoughtlessness.
We want to be rich; and the richer we get, the more ruthless we become, even
though we may contribute large sums to charity and education. Having robbed
the victim, we return to him a little of the spoils, and this we call philanthropy. I do
not think we realize what catastrophes we are preparing. Most of us live each day
as rapidly and thoughtlessly as possible, and leave to the governments, to the
cunning politicians, the direction of our lives.
All sovereign governments must prepare for war, and one’s own government
is no exception. To make its citizens efficient for war, to prepare them to perform
their duties effectively, the government must obviously control and dominate
them. They must be educated to act as machines, to be ruthlessly efficient. If the
purpose and end of life is to destroy or be destroyed, then education must
encourage ruthlessness; and I am not at all sure that that is not what we inwardly
desire, for ruthlessness goes with the worship of success.
The sovereign State does not want its citizens to be free, to think for
themselves, and it controls them through propaganda, through distorted historical
interpretations and so on. That is why education is becoming more and more a
means of teaching what to think and not how to think. If we were to think
independently of the prevailing political system, we would be dangerous; free
institutions might turn out pacifists or people who think contrary to the existing
Right education is obviously a danger to sovereign governments – and so it is
prevented by crude or subtle means. Education and food in the hands of the few
have become the means of controlling man; and governments, whether of the left
or of the right, are unconcerned as long as we are efficient machines for turning
out merchandise and bullets.
Now, the fact that this is happening the world over means that we who are the
citizens and educators, and who are responsible for the existing governments, do
not fundamen- tally care whether there is freedom or slavery, peace or war, well-
being or misery for man. We want a little reform here and there, but most of us
are afraid to tear down the present society and build a completely new structure,
for this would require a radical transformation of ourselves.
On the other hand, there are those who seek to bring about a violent
revolution. Having helped to build the existing social order with all its conflicts,
confusion and misery, they now desire to organize a perfect society. But can any
of us organize a perfect society when it is we who have brought into being the
present one? To believe that peace can be achieved through violence is to
sacrifice the present for a future ideal; and this seeking of a right end through
wrong means is one of the causes of the present disaster.
The expansion and predominance of sensate values necessarily creates the
poison of nationalism, of economic frontiers, sovereign governments and the
patriotic spirit, all of which excludes man’s co-operation with man and corrupts
human relationship, which is society. Society is the relationship between you and
another; and without deeply understanding this relationship, not at any one level,
but integrally, as a total process, we are bound to create again the same kind of
social structure, however superficially modified.
If we are to change radically our present human relationship, which has
brought untold misery to the world, our only and immediate task is to transform 60
ourselves through self-knowledge. So we come back to the central point, which is
oneself; but we dodge that point and shift the respon- sibility onto governments,
religions and ideologies. The government is what we are, religions and ideologies
are but a projection of ourselves; and until we change fundamentally there can be
neither right education nor a peaceful world.
Outward security for all can come only when there is love and intelligence; and
since we have created a world of conflict and misery in which outward security is
rapidly becoming impossible for anyone, does it not indicate the utter futility of
past and present education? As parents and teachers it is our direct responsibility
to break away from traditional thinking, and not merely rely on the experts and
their findings. Efficiency in technique has given us a certain capacity to earn
money, and that is why most of us are satisfied with the present social structure;
but the true educator is concerned only with right living, right education, and right
means of livelihood.
The more irresponsible we are in these matters, the more the State takes over
all responsibility. We are confronted, not with a political or economic crisis, but
with a crisis of human deterioration which no political party or economic system
Another and still greater disaster is approaching dangerously close, and most
of us are doing nothing whatever about it. We go on day after day exactly as
before; we do not want to strip away all our false values and begin anew. We
want to do patchwork reform, which only leads to problems of still further reform.
But the building is crumbling, the walls are giving way, and fire is destroying it.
We must leave the building and start on new ground, with different foundations,
We cannot discard technical knowledge, but we can become inwardly aware
of our ugliness, of our ruthlessness, of our deceptions and dishonesty, our utter 61
lack of love. Only by intelligently freeing ourselves from the spirit of nationalism,
from envy and the thirst for power, can a new social order be established.
Peace is not to be achieved by patchwork reform, nor by a mere
rearrangement of old ideas and superstitions. There can be peace only when we
understand what lies beyond the superficial, and thereby stop this wave of
destruction which has been unleashed by our own aggressiveness and fears; and
only then will there be hope for our children and salvation for the world. 62
Chapter 5: The School
THE right kind of education is concerned with individual freedom, which alone
can bring true cooperation with the whole, with the many; but this freedom is not
achieved through the pursuit of one’s own aggrandizement and success.
Freedom comes with self-knowledge, when the mind goes above and beyond the
hindrances it has created for itself through craving its own security.
It is the function of education to help each individual to discover all these
psychological hindrances, and not merely impose upon him new patterns of
conduct, new modes of thought. Such impositions will never awaken intelligence,
creative understanding, but will only further condition the individual. Surely, this is
what is happening throughout the world, and that is why our problems continue
It is only when we begin to understand the deep significance of human life that
there can be true education; but to understand, the mind must intelligently free
itself from the desire for reward which breeds fear and conformity. If we regard
our children as personal property, if to us they are the continuance of our petty
selves and the fulfilment of our ambitions, then we shall build an environment, a
social structure in which there is no love, but only the pursuit of self-centred
A school which is successful in the worldly sense is more often than not a
failure as an educational centre. A large and flourishing institution in which
hundreds of children are educated together, with all its accompanying show and
success, can turn out bank clerks and super-salesmen, industrialists or
commissars, superficial people who are technically efficient; but there is hope
only in the integrated individual, which only small schools can help to bring about.
That is why it is far more important to have schools with a limited number of boys 63
and girls and the right kind of educators, than to practise the latest and best
methods in large institutions.
Unfortunately, one of our confusing difficulties is that we think we must
operate on a huge scale. Most of us want large schools with imposing buildings,
even though they are obviously not the right kind of educational centres, because
we want to transform or affect what we call the masses.
But who are the masses? You and I. Let us not get lost in the thought that the
masses must also be rightly educated. The consideration of the mass is a form of
escape from immediate action. Right education will become universal if we begin
with the immediate, if we are aware of ourselves in our relationship with our
children, with our friends and neighbours. Our own action in the world we live in,
in the world of our family and friends, will have expanding influence and effect.
By being fully aware of ourselves in all our relationships we shall begin to
discover those confusions and limitations within us of which we are now ignorant;
and in being aware of them, we shall understand and so dissolve them. Without
this awareness and the self-knowledge which it brings, any reform in education or
in other fields will only lead to further antagonism and misery.
In building enormous institutions and employing teachers who depend on a
system instead of being alert and observant in their relationship with the
individual student, we merely encourage the accumulation of facts, the
development of capacity, and the habit of thinking mechanically, according to a
pattern; but certainly none of this helps the student to grow into an integrated
human being. Systems may have a limited use in the hands of alert and
thoughtful educators, but they do not make for intelligence. Yet it is strange that
words like «system,» «institution,» have become very important to us. Symbols
have taken the place of reality, and we are content that it should be so; for reality
is disturbing, while shadows give comfort. 64
Nothing of fundamental value can be accomplished through mass instruction,
but only through the careful study and understanding of the difficulties,
tendencies and capacities of each child; and those who are aware of this, and
who earnestly desire to understand themselves and help the young, should come
together and start a school that will have vital significance in the child’s life by
helping him to be integrated and intelligent. To start such a school, they need not
wait until they have the necessary means. One can be a true teacher at home,
and opportunities will come to the earnest.
Those who love their own children and the children about them, and who are
therefore in earnest, will see to it that a right school is started somewhere around
the corner, or in their own home.Then the money will come – it is the least
important consideration. To maintain a small school of the right kind is of course
financially difficult; it can flourish only on self-sacrifice, not on a fat bank account.
Money invariably corrupts unless there is love and understanding. But if it is really
a worthwhile school, the necessary help will be found. When there is love of the
child, all things are possible.
As long as the institution is the most important consideration, the child is not.
The right kind of educator is concerned with the individual, and not with the
number of pupils he has; and such an educator will discover that he can have a
vital and significant school which some parents will support. But the teacher must
have the flame of interest; if he is lukewarm, he will have an institution like any
If parents really love their children, they will employ legislation and other
means to establish small schools staffed with the right kind of educators; and they
will not be deterred by the fact that small schools are expensive and the right kind
of educators difficult to find. They should realize, however, that there will
inevitably be opposition from vested interests, from governments and organized
religions, because such schools are bound to be deeply revolutionary. True 65
revolution is not the violent sort; it comes about through cultivating the integration
and intelligence of human beings who, by their very life, will gradually create
radical changes in society.
But it is of the utmost importance that all the teachers in a school of this kind
should come together voluntarily, without being persuaded or chosen; for
voluntary freedom from worldliness is the only right foundation for a true
educational centre. If the teachers are to help one another and the students to
understand right values, there must be constant and alert awareness in their daily
In the seclusion of a small school one is apt to forget that there is an outside
world, with its everincreasing conflict, destruction and misery. That world is not
separate from us. On the contrary, it is part of us, for we have made it what it is;
and that is why, if there is to be a fundamental alteration in the structure of
society, right education is the first step.
Only right education, and not ideologies, leaders and economic revolutions,
can provide a lasting solution for our problems and miseries; and to see the truth
of this fact is not a matter of intellectual or emotional persuasion, nor of cunning
If the nucleus of the staff in a school of the right kind is dedicated and vital, it
will gather to itself others of the same purpose, and those who are not interested
will soon find themselves out of place. If the centre is purposive; and alert, the
indifferent periphery will wither and drop away; but if the centre is indifferent, then
the whole group will be uncertain and weak.
The centre cannot be made up of the headmaster alone. Enthusiasm or
interest that depends on one person is sure to wane and die. Such interest is
superficial, flighty and worthless, for it can be diverted and made subservient to
the whims and fancies of another. If the headmaster is dominating, then the spirit 66
of freedom and co-operation obviously cannot exist. A strong character may build
a first-rate school, but fear and subservience creep in, and then it generally
happens that the rest of the staff is composed of nonentities.
Such a group is not conducive to individual freedom and understanding. The
staff should not be under the domination of the headmaster, and the headmaster
should not assume all the responsibility; on the contrary, each teacher should feel
responsible for the whole. If there are only a few who are interested, then the
indifference or opposition of the rest will impede or stultify the general effort.
One may doubt that a school can be run without a central authority; but one
really does not know, because it has never been tried. Surely, in a group of true
educators, this problem of authority will never arise. When all are endeavouring to
be free and intelligent, cooperation with one another is possible at all levels. To
those who have not given themselves over deeply and lastingly to the task of
right education, the lack of a central authority may appear to be an impractical
theory; but if one is completely dedicated to right education, then one does not
require to be urged, directed or controlled. Intelligent teachers are pliable in the
exercise of their capacities; attempting to be individually free, they abide by the
regulations and do what is necessary for the benefit of the whole school. Serious
interest is the beginning of capacity, and both are strengthened by application.
If one does not understand the psychological implications of obedience,
merely to decide not to follow authority will only lead to confusion. Such confusion
is not due to the absence of authority, but to the lack of deep and mutual interest
in right education. If there is real interest, there is constant and thoughtful
adjustment on the part of every teacher to the demands and necessities of
running a school. In any relationship, frictions and misunderstandings are
inevitable; but they become exaggerated when there is not the binding affection
of common interest. 67
There must be unstinted co-operation among all the teachers in a school of
the right kind. The whole staff should meet often, to talk over the various
problems of the school; and when they have agreed upon a certain course of
action, there should obviously be no difficulty in carrying out what has been
decided. If some decision taken by the majority does not meet with the approval
of a particular teacher, it can be discussed again at the next meeting of the
No teacher should be afraid of the headmaster, nor should the headmaster
feel intimidated by the older teachers. Happy agreement is possible only when
there is a feeling of absolute equality among all. It is essential that this feeling of
equality prevail in the right kind of school, for there can be real co-operation only
when the sense of superiority and its opposite are non-existent. If there is mutual
trust, any difficulty or misunderstanding will not just be brushed aside, but will be
faced, and confidence restored.
If the teachers are not sure of their own vocation and interest, there is bound
to be envy and antagonism among them, and they will expend whatever energies
they have over trifling details and wasteful bickerings; whereas, irritations and
superficial disagreements will quickly be passed over if there is a burning interest
in bringing about the right kind of education. Then the details which loom so large
assume their normal proportions, friction and personal antagonisms are seen to
be vain and destructive, and all talks and discussions help one to find out what is
right and not who is right.
Difficulties and misunderstandings should always be talked over by those who
are working together with a common intention, for it helps to clarify any confusion
that may exist in one’s own thinking. When there is purposive interest, there is
also frankness and comradeship among the teachers, and antagonism can never
arise between them; but if that interest is lacking, though superficially they may
co-operate for their mutual advantage, there will always be conflict and enmity. 68
There may be, of course, other factors that are causing friction among the
members of the staff. One teacher may be overworked, another may have
personal or family worries, and perhaps still others do not feel deeply interested
in what they are doing. Surely, all these problems can be thrashed out at the
teachers’ meeting, for mutual interest makes for cooperation. It is obvious that
nothing vital can be created if a few do everything and the rest sit back.
Equal distribution of work gives leisure to all, and each one must obviously
have a certain amount of leisure. An overworked teacher becomes a problem to
himself and to others. If one is under too great a strain, one is apt to become
lethargic, indolent, and especially so if one is doing something which is not to
one’s liking. Recuperation is not possible if there is constant activity, physical or
mental; but this question of leisure can be settled in a friendly manner acceptable
What constitutes leisure differs with each individual. To some who are greatly
interested in their work, that work itself is leisure; the very action of interest, such
as study, is a form of relaxation. To others, leisure may be a withdrawal into
If the educator is to have a certain amount of time to himself, he must be
responsible only for the number of students that he can easily cope with. A direct
and vital relationship between teacher and student is almost impossible when the
teacher is weighed down by large and unmanageable numbers.
This is still another reason why schools should be kept small. It is obviously
important to have a very limited number of students in a class, so that the
educator can give his full attention to each one. When the group is too large he
cannot do this, and then punishment and reward become a convenient way of
enforcing discipline. 69
The right kind of education is not possible en masse. To study each child
requires patience, alertness and intelligence. To observe the child’s tendencies,
his aptitudes, his temperament, to understand his difficulties, to take into account
his heredity and parental influence and not merely regard him as belonging to a
certain category – all this calls for a swift and pliable mind, untrammelled by any
system or prejudice. It calls for skill, intense interest and, above all, a sense of
affection; and to produce educators endowed with these qualities is one of our
major problems today.
The spirit of individual freedom and intelligence should pervade the whole
school at all times. This can hardly be left to chance, and the casual mention at
odd moments of the words»freedom» and «intelligence» has very little significance.
It is particularly important that students and teachers meet regularly to discuss
all matters relating to the well-being of the whole group. A student council should
be formed, on which the teachers are represented, which can thrash out all the
problems of discipline, cleanliness, food and so on, and which can also help to
guide any students who may be somewhat self-indulgent, indifferent or obstinate.
The students should choose from among themselves those who are to be
responsible for the carrying out of decisions and for helping with the general
supervision. After all, self-government in the school is a preparation for self-
govern- ment in later life. If, while he is at school, the child learns to be
considerate, impersonal and intelligent in any discussion pertaining to his daily
problems, when he is older he will be able to meet effectively and dispassionately
the greater and more complex trials of life. The school should encourage the
children to understand one another’s difficulties and peculiarities, moods and
tempers; for then, as they grow up, they will be more thoughtful and patient in
their relationship with others. 70
This same spirit of freedom and intelligence should be evident also in the
child’s studies. If he is to be creative and not merely an automaton, the student
should not be encouraged to accept formulas and conclusions. Even in the study
of a science, one should reason with him, helping him to see the problem in its
entirety and to use his own judgment.
But what about guidance? Should there be no guidance whatsoever? The
answer to this question depends on what is meant by `guidance.’ If in their hearts
the teachers have put away all fear and all desire for domination, then they can
help the student towards creative understanding and freedom; but if there is a
conscious or unconscious desire to guide him towards a particular goal, then
obviously they are hindering his development. Guidance towards a particular
objective, whether created by oneself or imposed by another, impairs
If the educator is concerned with the freedom of the individual, and not with his
own preconceptions, he will help the child to discover that freedom by
encouraging him to understand his own environment, his own temperament, his
religious and family background, with all the influences and effects they can
possibly have on him. If there is love and freedom in the hearts of the teachers
themselves, they will approach each student mindful of his needs and difficulties;
and then they will not be mere automatons, operating according to methods and
formulas, but spontaneous human beings, ever alert and watchful.
The right kind of education should also help the student to discover what he is
most interested in. If he does not find his true vocation, all his life will seem
wasted; he will feel frustrated doing something which he does not want to do. If
he wants to be an artist and instead becomes a clerk in some office, he will spend
his life grumbling and pining away. So it is important for each one to find out what
he wants to do, and then to see if it is worth doing. A boy may want to be a 71
soldier; but before he takes up soldiering, he should be helped to discover
whether the military vocation is beneficial to the whole of mankind.
Right education should help the student, not only to develop his capacities, but
to understand his own highest interest. In a world torn by wars, destruction and
misery, one must be able to build a new social order and bring about a different
way of living.
The responsibility for building a peaceful and enlightened society rests chiefly
with the educator, and it is obvious, without becoming emotionally stirred up
about it, that he has a very great opportunity to help in achieving that social
transformation. The right kind of education does not depend on the regulations of
any government or the methods of any particular system; it lies in our own hands,
in the hands of the parents and the teachers.
If parents really cared for their children, they would build a new society; but
fundamentally most parents do not care, and so they have no time for this most
urgent problem. They have time for making money, for amusements, for rituals
and worship, but no time to consider what is the right kind of education for their
children. This is a fact that the majority of people do not want to face. To face it
might mean that they would have to give up their amusements and distractions,
and certainly they are not willing to do that. So they send their children off to
schools where the teacher cares no more for them than they do. Why should he
care? Teaching is merely a job to him, a way of earning money.
The world we have created is so superficial, so artificial, so ugly if one looks
behind the curtain; and we decorate the curtain, hoping that everything will
somehow come right. Most people are unfortunately not very earnest about life
except, perhaps, when it comes to making money, gaining power, or pursuing
sexual excitement. They do not want to face the other complexities of life, and 72
that is why, when their children grow up, they are as immature and unintegrated
as their parents, constantly battling with themselves and with the world.
We say so easily that we love our children; but is there love in our hearts when
we accept the existing social conditions, when we do not want to bring about a
fundamental transformation in this destructive society? And as long as we look to
the specialists to educate our children, this confusion and misery will continue; for
the specialists, being concerned with the part and not with the whole, are
Instead of being the most honoured and responsible occupation, education is
now considered slightingly, and most educators are fixed in a routine. They are
not really concerned with integration and intelligence, but with the imparting of
information; and a man who merely imparts information with the world crashing
about him is not an educator.
An educator is not merely a giver of information; he is one who points the way
to wisdom, to truth. Truth is far more important than the teacher. The search for
truth is religion, and truth is of no country, of no creed, it is not to be found in any
temple, church or mosque. Without the search for truth, society soon decays. To
create a new society, each one of us has to be a true teacher, which means that
we have to be both the pupil and the master; we have to educate ourselves.
If a new social order is to be established, those who teach merely to earn a
salary can obviously have no place as teachers. To regard education as a means
of livelihood is to exploit the children for one’s own advantage. In an enlightened
society, teachers will have no concern for their own welfare, and the community
will provide for their needs.
The true teacher is not he who has built up an impressive educational
organization, nor he who is an instrument of the politicians, nor he who is bound
to an ideal, a belief or a country. The true teacher is inwardly rich and therefore 73
asks nothing for himself; he is not ambitious and seeks no power in any form; he
does not use teaching as a means of acquiring position or authority, and
therefore he is free from the compulsion of society and the control of
governments. Such teachers have the primary place in an enlightened civilization,
for true culture is founded, not on the engineers and technicians, but on the
Chapter 6: Parents And Teachers
THE right kind of education begins with the educator, who must understand
himself and be free from established patterns of thought; for what he is, that he
imparts. If he has not been rightly educated, what can he teach except the same
mechanical knowledge on which he himself has been brought up? The problem,
therefore, is not the child, but the parent and the teacher; the problem is to
educate the educator.
If we who are the educators do not understand ourselves, if we do not
understand our relationship with the child but merely stuff him with information
and make him pass examinations, how can we possibly bring about a new kind of
education? The pupil is there to be guided and helped; but if the guide, the helper
is himself confused and narrow, nationalistic and theory-ridden, then naturally his
pupil will be what he is, and education becomes a source of further confusion and
If we see the truth of this, we will realize how impor- tant it is that we begin to
educate ourselves rightly. To be concerned with our own re-education is far more
necessary than to worry about the future well-being and security of the child.
To educate the educator – that is, to have him understand himself – is one of
the most difficult undertakings, because most of us are already crystallized within
a system of thought or a pattern of action; we have already given ourselves over
to some ideology, to a religion, or to a particular standard of conduct. That is why
we teach the child what to think and not how to think.
Moreover, parents and teachers are largely occupied with their own conflicts
and sorrows. Rich or poor, most parents are absorbed in their personal worries
and trials. They are not gravely concerned about the present social and moral
deterioration, but only desire that their children shall be equipped to get on in the 75
world. They are anxious about the future of their children, eager to have them
educated to hold secure positions, or to marry well.
Contrary to what is generally believed, most parents do not love their children,
though they talk of loving them. If parents really loved their children, there would
be no emphasis laid on the family and the nation as opposed to the whole, which
creates social and racial divisions between men and brings about war and
starvation. It is really extraordinary that, while people are rigorously trained to be
lawyers or doctors, they may become parents without undergoing any training
whatsoever to fit them for this all-important task.
More often than not, the family, with its separate tend- encies, encourages the
general process of isolation, thereby becoming a deteriorating factor in society. it
is only when there is love ind understanding that the walls of isolation are broken
down, and then the family is no longer a closed circle, it is neither a prison nor a
refuge; then the parents are in communion, not only with their children, but also
with their neighbours.
Being absorbed in their own problems, many parents shift to the teacher the
responsibility for the well-being of their children; and then it is important that the
educator help in the education of the parents as well.
He must talk to them, explaining that the confused state of the world mirrors
their own individual confusion. He must point out that scientific progress in itself
cannot bring about a radical change in existing values; that technical training,
which is now called education, has not given man freedom or made him any
happier; and that to condition the student to accept the present environment is
not conducive to intelligence. He must tell them what he is attempting to do for
their child, and how he is setting about it. He has to awaken the parents’
confidence, not by assuming the authority of a specialist dealing with ignorant 76
laymen, but by talking over with them the child’s temperament, difficulties,
aptitudes and so on.
If the teacher takes a real interest in the child as an individual, the parents will
have confidence in him. In this process, the teacher is educating the parents as
well as himself, while learning from them in return. Right education is a mutual
task demanding patience, consideration and af- fection. Enlightened teachers in
an enlightened community could work out this problem of how to bring up
children, and experiments along these lines should be made on a small scale by
interested teachers and thoughtful parents.
Do parents ever ask themselves why they have children? Do they have
children to perpetuate their name, to carry on their property? Do they want
children merely for the sake of their own delight, to satisfy their own emotional
needs? If so, then the children become a mere projection of the desires and fears
of their parents.
Can parents claim to love their children when, by educating them wrongly,
they foster envy, enmity and ambition? Is it love that stimulates the national and
racial antagonisms which lead to war, destruction and utter misery, that sets man
against man in the name of religions and ideologies?
Many parents encourage the child in the ways of conflict and sorrow, not only
by allowing him to be submitted to the wrong kind of education, but by the
manner in which they conduct their own lives; and then, when the child grows up
and suffers, they pray for him or find excuses for his behaviour. The suffering of
parents for their children is a form of possessive self-pity which exists only when
there is no love.
If parents love their children, they will not be nationalistic, they will not identify
themselves with any country; for the worship of the State brings on war, which
kills or maims their sons. If parents love their children, they will discover what is 77
right relationship to property; for the possessive in- stinct has given property an
enormous and false significance which is destroying the world. If parents love
their children, they will not belong to any organized religion; for dogma and belief
divide people into conflicting groups, creating antagonism between man and man.
If parents love their children, they will do away with envy and strife, and will set
about altering fundamentally the structure of present-day society.
As long as we want our children to be powerful, to have bigger and better
positions, to become more and more successful, there is no love in our hearts; for
the worship of success encourages conflict and misery. To love one’s children is
to be in complete communion with them; it is to see that they have the kind of
education that will help them to be sensitive, intelligent and integrated.
The first thing a teacher must ask himself, when he decides that he wants to
teach, is what exactly he means by teaching. Is he going to teach the usual
subjects in the habitual way? Does he want to condition the child to become a
cog in the social machine, or help him to be an integrated, creative human being,
a threat to false values? And if the educator is to help the student to examine and
understand the values and influences that surround him and of which he is a part,
must he not be aware of them himself? If one is blind, can one help others to
cross to the other shore?
Surely, the teacher himself must first begin to see. He must be constantly
alert, intensely aware of his own thoughts and feelings, aware of the ways in
which he is conditioned, aware of his activities and his responses; for out of this
watchfulness comes intelligence, and with it a radical transformation in his
relationship to people and to things.
Intelligence has nothing to do with the passing of examinations. Intelligence is
the spontaneous perception which makes a man strong and free. To awaken
intelligence in a child, we must begin to understand for ourselves what 78
intelligence is; for how can we ask a child to be intelligent if we ourselves remain
unintelligent in so many ways? The problem is not only the student’s difficulties,
but also our own: the cumulative fears, unhappiness and frustrations of which we
are not free. In order to help the child to be intelligent, we have to break down
within ourselves those hindrances which make us dull and thoughtless.
How can we teach children not to seek personal security if we ourselves are
pursuing it? What hope is there for the child if we who are parents and teachers
are not entirely vulnerable to life, if we erect protective walls around ourselves?
To discover the true significance of this struggle for security, which is causing
such chaos in the world, we must begin to awaken our own intelligence by being
aware of our psychological processes; we must begin to question all the values
which now enclose us.
We should not continue to fit thoughtlessly into the pattern in which we happen
to have been brought up. How can there ever be harmony in the individual and so
in society if we do not understand ourselves? Unless the educator understands
himself, unless he sees his own condi- tioned responses and is beginning to free
himself from existing values, how can he possibly awaken intelligence in the
child? And if he cannot awaken intelligence in the child, then what is his function?
It is only by understanding the ways of our own thought and feeling that we
can truly help the child to be a free human being; and if the educator is vitally
concerned with this, he will be keenly aware, not only of the child, but also of
Very few of us observe our own thoughts and feelings. If they are obviously
ugly, we do not understand their full significance, but merely try to check them or
push them aside. We are not deeply aware of ourselves; our thoughts and
feelings are stereotyped, automatic. We learn a few subjects, gather some
information, and then try to pass it on to the children. 79
But if we are vitally interested, we shall not only try to find out what
experiments are being made in education in different parts of the world, but we
shall want to be very clear about our own approach to this whole question; we
shall ask ourselves why and to what purpose we are educating the children and
ourselves; we shall inquire into the meaning of existence, into the relationship of
the individual to society, and so on. Surely, educators must be aware of these
problems and try to help the child to discover the truth concerning them, without
projecting upon him their own idiosyncrasies and habits of thought.
Merely to follow a system, whether political or educational, will never solve our
many social problems; and it is far more important to understand the manner of
our approach to any problem, than to understand the problem itself.
If children are to be free from fear – whether of their parents, of their
environment, or of God – the educator himself must have no fear. But that is the
difficulty: to find teachers who are not themselves the prey of some kind of fear.
Fear narrows down thought and limits initiative, and a teacher who is fearful
obviously cannot convey the deep significance of being without fear. Like
goodness, fear is contagious. If the educator himself is secretly afraid, he will
pass that fear on to his students, although its contamination may not be
Suppose, for example, that a teacher is afraid of public opinion; he sees the
absurdity of his fear, and yet cannot go beyond it. What is he to do? He can at
least acknowledge it to himself, and can help his students to understand fear by
bringing out his own psychological reaction and openly talking it over with them.
This honest and sincere approach will greatly encourage the students to be
equally open and direct with themselves and with the teacher.
To give freedom to the child, the educator himself must be aware of the
implications and the full significance of freedom. Example and compulsion in any 80
form do not help to bring about freedom, and it is only in freedom that there can
be self-discovery and insight.
The child is influenced by the people and the things about him, and the right
kind of educator should help him to uncover these influences and their true worth.
Right values are not discovered through the authority of society or tradition; only
individual thoughtfulness can reveal them.
If one understands this deeply, one will encourage the student from the very
beginning to awaken insight into present-day individual and social values. One
will encourage him to seek out, not any particular set of values, but the true value
of all things. One will help him to be fearless, which is to be free of all domination,
whether by the teacher, the family or society, so that as an individual he can
flower in love and goodness. In thus helping the student towards freedom, the
educator is changing his own values also; he too is beginning to be rid of the
`’me» and the»mine,» he too is flowering in love and goodness. This process of
mutual education creates an altogether different relationship between the teacher
and the student.
Domination or compulsion of any kind is a direct hindrance to freedom and
intelligence. The right kind of educator has no authority, no power in society; he is
beyond the edicts and sanctions of society. If we are to help the student to be
free from his hindrances, which have been created by himself and by his
environment, then every form of compulsion and domination must be understood
and put aside; and this cannot be done if the educator is not also freeing himself
from all crippling authority.
To follow another, however great, prevents the discovery of the ways of the
self; to run after the promise of some ready-made Utopia makes the mind utterly
unaware of the enclosing action of its own desire for comfort, for authority, for
someone else’s help. The priest, the politician, the lawyer, the soldier, are all 81
there to «help» us; but such help destroys intelligence and freedom. The help we
need does not lie outside ourselves. We do not have to beg for help; it comes
without our seeking it when we are humble in our dedicated work, when we are
open to the understanding of our daily trials and accidents.
We must avoid the conscious or unconscious craving for support and
encouragement, for such craving creates its own response, which is always
gratifying. It is comforting to have someone to encourage us, to give us a lead, to
pacify us; but this habit of turning to another as a guide, as an authority, soon
becomes a poison in our system. The moment we depend on another for
guidance, we forget our original intention, which was to awaken individual
freedom and intelligence.
All authority is a hindrance, and it is essential that the educator should not
become an authority for the student. The building up of authority is both a
conscious and an unconscious process.
The student is uncertain, groping, but the teacher is sure in his knowledge,
strong in his experience. The strength and certainty of the teacher give assurance
to the student, who tends to bask in that sunlight; but such assurance is neither
lasting nor true. A teacher who consciously or un consciously encourages
dependence can never be of great help to his students. He may overwhelm them
with his knowledge, dazzle them with his personality, but he is not the right kind
of educator because his knowledge and experiences are his addiction, his
security, his prison; and until he himself is free of them, he cannot help his
students to be integrated human beings.
To be the right kind of educator, a teacher must constantly be freeing himself
from books and laboratories; he must ever be watchful to see that the students do
not make of him an example, an ideal, an authority. When the teacher desires to
fulfil himself in his students, when their success is his, then his teaching is a form 82
of self-continuation, which is detrimental to self-knowledge and freedom. The
right kind of educator must be aware of all these hindrances in order to help his
students to be free, not only from his authority, but from their own self-enclosing
Unfortunately, when it comes to understanding a problem, most teachers do
not treat the student as an equal partner; from their superior position, they give
instructions to the pupil, who is far below them. Such a relationship only
strengthens fear in both the teacher and the student. What creates this unequal
relationship? Is it that the teacher is afraid of being found out? Does he keep a
dignified distance to guard his susceptibilities, hide importance? Such superior
aloofness in no way helps to break down the barriers that separate individuals.
After all, the educator and his pupil are helping each other to educate
All relationship should be a mutual education;and as the protective isolation
afforded by knowledge, by achievement, by ambition, only breeds envy and
antagonism, the right kind of educator must transcend these walls with which he
Because he is devoted solely to the freedom and integra- tion of the individual,
the right kind of educator is deeply and truly religious. He does not belong to any
sect, to any organized religion; he is free of beliefs and rituals, for he knows that
they are only illusions, fancies, superstitions projected by the desires of those
who create them. He knows that reality or God comes into being only when there
is self-knowledge ind therefore freedom.
People who have no academic degrees often make the best teachers because
they are willing to experiment; not being specialists, they are interested in
learning, in understanding life. For the true teacher, teaching is not a technique, it
is his way of life; like a great artist, he would rather starve than give up his 83
creative work. Unless one has this burning desire to teach, one should not be a
teacher. It is of the utmost importance that one discover for oneself whether one
his this gift, and not merely drift into teaching because it is a means of livelihood.
As long as teaching is only a profession, a means of livelihood, and not a
dedicated vocation, there is bound to be a wide gap between the world and
ourselves: our home life and our work remain separate and distinct. As long as
education is only a job like any other, conflict and enmity among individuals and
among the various class levels of society are inevitable; there will be increasing
competition, the ruthless pursuit of personal ambition, and the building up of the
national and racial divisions which create antagonism and endless wars.
But if we have dedicated ourselves to be the right kind of educators, we do not
create barriers between our home life and the life at school, for we are
everywhere concerned with freedom and intelligence. We consider equally the
children of the rich and of the poor, regarding each child as an individual with his
particular temperament, heredity, ambitions, and so on. We are concerned, not
with a class, not with the powerful or the weak, but with the freedom and
integration of the individual.
Dedication to the right kind of education must be wholly voluntary. It should
not be the result of any kind of persuasion, or of any hope of personal gain; and it
must be devoid of the fears that arise from the craving for success and
achievement. The identification of oneself with the success or failure of a school
is still within the field of personal motive. If to teach is one’s vocation, if one looks
upon the right kind of education as a vital need for the individual, then one will not
allow oneself to be hindered or in any way sidetracked either by one’s own
ambitions or by those of another; one will find time and opportunity for this work,
and will set about it without seeking reward, honour or fame. Then all other things
– family, personal security, comfort – become of secondary importance. 84
If we are in earnest about being the right kind of teachers, we shall be
thoroughly dissatisfied, not with a particular system of education, but with all
systems, because we see that no educational method can free the individual. A
method or a system may condition him to a different set of values, but it cannot
make him free.
One has to be very watchful also not to fall into one’s own particular system,
which the mind is ever building. To have a pattern of conduct, of action, is a
convenient and safe procedure, and that is why the mind takes shelter within its
formations. To be constantly alert is bothersome and exacting, but to develop and
follow a method does not demand thought.
Repetition and habit encourage the mind to be sluggish; a shock is needed to
awaken it, which we then call a problem. We try to solve this problem according
to our well-worn explanations, justifications and condemnations, all of which puts
the mind back to sleep again. In this form of sluggishness the mind is constantly
being caught, and the right kind of educator not only puts an end to it within
himself, but also helps his students to be aware of it.
Some may ask,»How does one become the right kind of educator?» Surely, to
ask «How» indicates, not a free mind, but a mind that is timorous, that is seeking
an advantage, a result. The hope and the effort to become something only makes
the mind conform to the desired end, while a free mind is constantly watching,
learning, and therefore breaking through its self-projected hindrances.
Freedom is at the beginning, it is not something to be gained at the end. The
moment one asks «How,» one is confronted with insurmountable difficulties, and
the teacher who is eager to dedicate his life to education will never ask this
question, for he knows that there is no method by which one can become the
right kind of educator. If one is vitally interested, one does not ask for a method
that will assure one of the desired result. 85
Can any system make us intelligent? We may go through the kind of a system,
acquire degrees, and so on; but will we then be educators, or merely the
personifications of a system? To seek reward, to want to be called an outstanding
educator, is to crave recognition and praise; and while it is sometimes agreeable
to be appreciated and encouraged, if one depends upon it for one’s sustained
interest, it becomes a drug of which one soon wearies. To expect appreciation
and encouragement is quite immature.
If anything new is to be created, there must be alertness and energy, not
bickerings and wrangles. If one feels frustrated in one’s work, then boredom and
weariness generally follow. If one is not interested, one should obviously not go
But why is there so often a lack of vital interest among teachers? What causes
one do feel frustrated? Frustration is not the result of being forced by
circumstances to do this or that; it arises when we do not know for ourselves what
it is that we really want to do. Being confused, we get pushed around, and finally
land in something which has no appeal for us at all.
If teaching is our true vocation, we may feel temporarily frustrated because we
have not seen a way out of this present educational confusion; but the moment
we see and understand the implications of the right kind of education, we shall
have again all the necessary drive and enthusiasm. It is not a matter of will or
resolution, but of perception and understanding.
If teaching is one’s vocation, and if one perceives the grave importance of the
right kind of education, one cannot help but be the right kind of educator. There is
no need to follow any method. The very fact of understanding that the right kind
of education is indispensable if we are to achieve the freedom and integration of
the individual, brings about a fundamental change in oneself. If one becomes 86
aware that there can be peace and happiness for man only through right
education, then one will naturally give one’s whole life and interest to it.
One teaches because one wants the child to be rich inwardly, which will result
in his giving right value to possessions. Without inner richness, worldly things
become extravagantly important, leading to various forms of destruction and
misery. One teaches to encourage the student to find his true vocation, and to
avoid those occupations that foster antagonism between man and man. One
teaches to help the young towards self-knowledge, without which there can be no
peace, no lasting happiness. One’s teaching is not self-fulfilment, but self-
Without the right kind of teaching, illusion is taken for reality, and then the
individual is ever in conflict within himself, and therefore there is conflict in his
relationship with others, which is society. One teaches because one sees that
self-knowledge alone, and not the dogmas and rituals of organized religion, can
bring about a tranquil mind; and that creation, truth, God, comes into being only
when the «me» and the «mine» are transcended. 87
Chapter 7: Sex And Marriage
LIKE other human problems, the problem of our passions and sexual urges is
a complex and difficult one, and if the educator himself has not deeply probed
into it and seen its many implications, how can he help those he is educating? If
the parent or the teacher is himself caught up in the turmoils of sex, how can he
guide the child? Can we help the children if we ourselves do not understand the
significance of this whole problem? The manner in which the educator imparts an
understanding of sex depends on the state of his own mind; it depends on
whether he is gently dispassionate, or consumed by his own desires.
Now, why is sex to most of us a problem, full of confusion and conflict? Why
has it become a dominant factor in our lives? One of the main reasons is that we
are not creative; and we are not creative because our whole social and moral
culture, as well as our educational methods, are based on development of the
intellect. The solution to this problem of sex lies in understanding that creation
does not occur through the functioning of the intellect. On the contrary, there is
creation only when the intellect is still.
The intellect, the mind as such, can only repeat, recollect, it is constantly
spinning new words and rearranging old ones; and as most of us feel and
experience only through the brain, we live exclusively on words and mechanical
repetitions. This is obviously not creation; and since we are uncreative, the only
means of creativeness left to us is sex. Sex is of the mind, and that which is of
the mind must fulfil itself or there is frustration.
Our thoughts, our lives are bright, arid, hollow, empty; emotionally we are
starved, religiously and intellectually we are repetitive, dull; socially, politically and
economically we are regimented, controlled. We are not happy people, we are
not vital, joyous; at home, in business, at church, at school, we never experience
a creative state of being, there is no deep release in our daily thought and action. 88
Caught and held from all sides, naturally sex becomes our only outlet, an
experience to be sought again and again because it momentarily offers that state
of happiness which comes when there is absence of self. It is not sex that
constitutes a problem, but the desire to recapture the state of happiness, to gain
and maintain pleasure, whether sexual or any other.
What we are really searching for is this intense passion of self-forgetfulness,
this identification with something in which we can lose ourselves completely.
Because the self is small, petty and a source of pain, consciously or
unconsciously we want to lose ourselves in individual or collective excitement, in
lofty thoughts, or in some gross form of sensation.
When we seek to escape from the self, the means of escape are very
important, and then they also become painful problems to us. Unless we
investigate and understand the hindrances that prevent creative living, which is
freedom from self, we shall not understand the problem of sex.
One of the hindrances to creative living is fear, and respectability is a
manifestation of that fear. The respectable, the morally bound, are not aware of
the full and deep significance of life. They are enclosed between the walls of their
own righteousness and cannot see beyond them. Their stained-glass morality,
based on ideals and religious beliefs, has nothing to do with reality; and when
they take shelter behind it, they are living in the world of their own illusions. In
spite of their self-imposed and gratifying morality, the respectable also are in
confusion, misery and conflict.
Fear, which is the result of our desire to be secure, makes us conform, imitate
and submit to domination, and therefore it prevents creative living. To live
creatively is to live in freedom, which is to be without fear; and there can be a
state of creativeness only when the mind is not caught up in desire and the
gratification of desire. It is only by watching our own hearts and minds with 89
delicate attention that we can unravel the hidden ways of our desire. The more
thoughtful and affectionate we are, the less desire dominates the mind. It is only
when there is no love that sensation becomes a consuming problem.
To understand this problem of sensation, we shall have to approach it, not
from any one direction, but from every side, the educational, the religious, the
social and the moral. Sensations have become almost exclusively important to us
because we lay such overwhelming emphasis on sensate values.
Through books, through advertisements, through the cinema, and in many
other ways, various aspects of sensation are constantly being stressed. The
political and religious pageants, the theatre and other forms of amusement, all
encourage us to seek stimulation at different levels of our being; and we delight in
this encouragement. Sensuality is being developed in every possible way, and at
the same time, the ideal of chastity is upheld. A contradiction is thus built up
within us; and strangely enough, this very contradiction is stimulating.
It is only when we understand the pursuit of sensation, which is one of the
major activities of the mind, that pleasure, excitement and violence cease to be a
dominant feature in our lives. It is because we do not love, that sex, the pursuit of
sensation, has become a consuming problem. When there is love, there is
chastity; but he who tries to be chaste, is not. Virtue comes with freedom, it
comes when there is an understanding of what is.
When we are young, we have strong sexual urges, and most of us try to deal
with these desires by controlling and disciplining them, because we think that
without some kind of restraint we shall become consumingly lustful. Organized
religions are much concerned about our sexual morality; but they allow us to
perpetrate violence and murder in the name of patriotism, to indulge in envy and
crafty ruthlessness, and to pursue power and success. Why should they be so
concerned with this particular type of morality, and not attack exploitation, greed 90
and war? Is it not because organized religions, being part of the environment
which we have created, depend for their very existence on our fears and hopes,
on our envy and separatism? So, in the religious field as in every other, the mind
is held in the projections of its own desires.
As long as there is no deep understanding of the whole process of desire, the
institution of marriage as it now exists, whether in the East or in the West, cannot
provide the answer to the sexual problem. Love is not induced by the signing of a
contract, nor is it based on an exchange of gratification, nor on mutual security
and comfort. All these things are of the mind, and that is why love occupies so
small a place in our lives. Love is not of the mind, it is wholly independent of
thought with its cunning calculations, its self-protective demands and reactions.
When there is love, sex is never a problem – it is the lack of love that creates the
The hindrances and escapes of the mind constitute the problem, and not sex
or any other specific issue; and that is why it is important to understand the
mind’s process, its attractions and repulsions, its responses to beauty, to
ugliness. We should observe ourselves, become aware of how we regard people,
how we look at men and women. We should see that the family becomes a
centre of separatism and of antisocial activities when it is used as a means of
self-perpetuation, for the sake of one’s self-importance. Family and property,
when centred on the self with its ever-narrowing desires and pursuits, become
the instruments of power and domination, a source of conflict between the
individual and society.
The difficulty in all these human questions is that we ourselves, the parents
and teachers, have become so utterly weary and hopeless, altogether confused
and without peace; life weighs heavily upon us, and we want to be comforted, we
want to be loved. Being poor and insufficient within ourselves, how can we hope
to give the right kind of education to the child? 91
That is why the major problem is not the pupil, but the educator; our own
hearts and minds must be cleansed if we are to be capable of educating others. If
the educator himself is confused, crooked, lost in a maze of his own desires, how
can he impart wisdom or help to make straight the way of another? But we are
not machines to be understood and repaired by experts; we are the result of a
long series of influences and accidents, and each one has to unravel and
understand for himself the confusion of his own nature.
Chapter 8: Art, Beauty And Creation
MOST of us are constantly trying to escape from ourselves; and as art offers a
respectable and easy means of doing so, it plays a significant part in the lives of
many people. In the desire for self-forgetfulness, some turn to art, others take to
drink, while still others follow mysterious and fanciful religious doctrines.
When, consciously or unconsciously, we use something to escape from
ourselves, we become addicted to it. To depend on a person, a poem, or what
you will, as a means of release from our worries and anxieties, though
momentarily enriching, only creates further conflict and contradiction in our lives.
The state of creativeness cannot exist where there is conflict, and the right
kind of education should therefore help the individual to face his problems and
not glorify the ways of escape; it should help him to understand and eliminate
conflict, for only then can this state of creativeness come into being. Art divorced
from life has no great significance. When art is separate from our daily living,
when there is a gap between our instinctual life and our efforts on canvas, in
marble or in words, then art becomes merely an expression of our superficial
desire to escape from the reality of what is. To bridge this gap is very arduous,
especially for those who are gifted and technically proficient; but it is only when
the gap is bridged that our life becomes integrated and art an integra expression
Mind has the power to create illusion; and without understanding its ways, to
seek inspiration is to invite self-deception. Inspiration comes when we are open to
it, not when we are courting it. To attempt to gain inspiration through any form of
stimulation leads to all kinds of delusions.
Unless one is aware of the significance of existence, capacity or gift gives
emphasis and importance to the self and its cravings. it tends to make the 93
individual self-centred and separative; he feels himself to be an entity apart, a
superior being, all of which breeds many evils and causes ceaseless strife and
pain. The self is a bundle of many entities, each opposed to the others. It is a
battlefield of conflicting desires, a centre of constant struggle between the»mine»
and the»not-mine; and as long as we give importance to the self, to the «me» and
the»mine,» there will be increasing conflict within ourselves and in the world.
A true artist is beyond the vanity of the self and its ambitions. To have the
power of brilliant expression, and yet be caught in worldly ways, makes for a life
of contradiction and strife. Praise and adulation, when taken to heart, inflate the
ego and destroy receptivity, and the worship of success in any field is obviously
detrimental to intelligence.
Any tendency or talent which makes for isolation, any form of self-
identification, however stimulating, distorts the expression of sensitivity and
brings about insensitivity. Sensitivity is dulled when gift becomes personal, when
importance is given to the «me» and the «mine» – I paint, I write, I invent. It is only
when we are aware of every movement of our own thought and feeling in our
relationship with people, with things and with nature, that the mind is open,
pliable, not tethered to self-protective demands and pursuits; and only then is
there sensitivity to the ugly and the beautiful, unhindered by the self.
Sensitivity to beauty and to ugliness does not come about through attachment;
it comes with love, when there are no self-created conflicts. When we are
inwardly poor, we indulge in every form of outward show, in wealth, power and
possessions. When our hearts are empty, we collect things. If we can afford it, we
surround ourselves with objects that we consider beautiful, and because we
attach enormous importance to them, we are responsible for much misery and
The acquisitive spirit is not the love of beauty; it arises from the desire for
security, and to be secure is to be insensitive. The desire to be secure creates
fear; it sets going a process of isolation which builds walls of resistance around
us, and these walls prevent all sensitivity. However beautiful an object may be, it
soon loses its appeal for us; we dull. Beauty is still there, but we are no longer
open to it, and it has been absorbed into our monotonous daily existence.
Since our hearts are withered and we have forgotten how to be kindly, how to
look at the stars, at the trees, at the reflections on the water, we require the
stimulation of pictures and jewels, of books and endless amusements. We are
constantly seeking new excitements, new thrills, we crave an everincreasing
variety of sensations. Art is this craving and its satisfaction that make the mind
and heart weary and dull. As long as we are seeking sensation, the things that we
call beautiful and ugly have but a very superficial significance. There is lasting joy
only when we are capable of approaching all things afresh – which is not possible
as long as we are bound up in our desires. The craving for sensation and
gratification prevents the experiencing of that which is always new. Sensations
can be bought, but not the love of beauty.
When we are aware of the emptiness of our own minds and hearts without
running away from it into any kind of stimulation or sensation, when we are
completely open, highly sensitive, only then can there be creation, only then shall
we find creative joy. To cultivate the outer without understanding the inner must
inevitably build up those values which lead men to destruction and sorrow.
Learning a technique may provide us with a job, but it will not make us
creative; whereas, if there is joy, if there is the creative fire, it will find a way to
express itself, one need not study a method of expression. When one really
wants to write a poem, one writes it, and if one has the technique, so much the
better; but why stress what is but a means of communication if one has nothing to 95
say? When there is love in our hearts, we do not search for a way of putting
Great artists and great writers may be creators, but we are not, we are mere
spectators. We read vast numbers of books, listen to magnificent music, look at
works of art, but we never directly experience the sublime; our experience is
always through a poem, through a picture, through the personality of a saint. To
sing we must have a song in our hearts; but having lost the song, we pursue the
singer. Without an intermediary we feel lost; but we must be lost before we can
discover anything. Discovery is the beginning of creativeness; and without
creativeness, do what we may, there can be no peace or happiness for man.
We think that we shall be able to live happily, creatively, if we learn a method,
a technique, a style; but creative happiness comes only when there is inward
richness, it can never be attained through any system. Self-improvement, which
is another way of assuring the security of the «me» and the»mine,» is not creative,
nor is it love of beauty. Creativeness comes into being when there is constant
awareness of the ways of the mind, and of the hindrances it has built for itself.
The freedom to create comes with self-knowledge; but self-knowledge is not a
gift. One can be creative without having any particular talent. Creativeness is a
state of being in which the conflicts and sorrows of the self are absent, a state in
which the mind is not caught up in the demands and pursuits of desire.
To be creative is not merely to produce poems, or statues, or children; it is to
be in that state in which truth can come into being. Truth comes into being when
there is a complete cessation of thought; and thought ceases only when the self
is absent, when the mind has ceased to create, that is, when it is no longer
caught in its own pursuits. When the mind is utterly still without being forced or
trained into quiescence, when it is silent because the self is inactive, then there is
creation. The love of beauty may express itself in a song, in a smile, or in silence; but
most of us have no inclination to be silent. We have not the time to observe the
birds, the passing clouds, because we are too busy with our pursuits and
pleasures. When there is no beauty in our hearts, how can we help the children to
be alert and sensitive? We try to be sensitive to beauty while avoiding the ugly;
but avoidance of the ugly makes for insensitivity. If we would develop sensitivity
in the young, we ourselves must be sensitive to beauty and to ugliness, and must
take every opportunity to awaken in them the joy there is in seeing, not only the
beauty that man has created, but also the beauty of nature.