Freedom to Learn

From Krishnamurti’s Book THE URGENCY OF CHANGE

Krishnamurti: There is no ‘how’. The ‘how’ means a system, a method, a practice which becomes mechanical. Again we have to be rid of the significance of the word ‘how’.

Questioner: Is it possible? I know the word possible implies a future, an effort, a striving to bring about harmony, but one must use certain words. I hope we can go beyond those words, so is it possible to bring about a union between the observer and the observed?

Krishnamurti: The observer is always casting its shadow on the thing it observes. So one must understand the structure and the nature of the observer, not how to bring about a union between the two. One must understand the movement of the observer, and in that understanding perhaps the observer comes to an end. We must examine what the observer is: it is the past with all its memories, conscious and unconscious, its racial inheritance, its accumulated experience which is called knowledge, its reactions. The observer is really the conditioned entity. He is the one who asserts that he is, and I am. In protecting himself, he resists, dominates, seeking comfort and security. The observer then sets himself apart as something different from that which he observes, inwardly or outwardly. This brings about a duality and from this duality there is conflict, which is the wastage of energy. To be aware of the observer, his movement, his self-centred activity, his assertions, his prejudices, one must be aware of all these unconscious movements which build the separatist feeling that he is different. It must be observed without any form of evaluation, without like and dislike; just observe it in daily life, in its relationships. When this observation is clear, isn’t there then a freedom from the observer?

Questioner: You are saying, sir, that the observer is really the ego; you are saying that as long as the ego exists, he must resist, divide, separate, for in this separation, this division, he feels alive. It gives him vitality to resist, to fight, and he has become accustomed to that battle; it is his way of living. Are you not saying that this ego, this ‘I’, must dissolve through an observation in which there is no sense of like or dislike, no opinion or judgement, but only the observing of this ‘I’ in action? But can such a thing really take place? Can I look at myself so completely, so truly, without distortion? You say that when I do look at myself so clearly then the ‘I’ has no movement at all. And you say this is part of meditation?

Krishnamurti: Of course. This is meditation.

Questioner: This observation surely demands extraordinary self-discipline.

Krishnamurti: What do you mean by self-discipline? Do you mean disciplining the self by putting him in a straitjacket, or do you mean learning about the self, the self that asserts, that dominates, that is ambitious, violent and so on – learning about it? The learning is, in itself, discipline. The word discipline means to learn and when there is learning, not accumulating, when there is actual learning, which needs attention, that learning brings about its own responsibility, its own activity, its own dimensions: so there is no discipline as something imposed upon it. Where there is learning there is no imitation, no conformity, no authority. If this is what you mean by the word discipline, then surely there is freedom to learn?

Questioner: You are taking me too far and perhaps too deeply, and I can’t quite go with you where this learning is concerned. I see very clearly that the self as the observer must come to an end. It is logically so, and there must be no conflict: that is very clear. But you are saying that this very observation is learning and in learning there is always accumulation; this accumulation becomes the past. Learning is an additive process, but you are apparently giving it a different meaning altogether. From what I have understood you are saying that learning is a constant movement without accumulation. Is that so? Can learning be without accumulation?

Krishnamurti: Learning is its own action. What generally happens is that having learnt – we act upon what we have learnt. So there is division between the past and action, and hence there is a conflict between what should be and what is, or what has been and what is. We are saying that there can be action in the very movement of learning: that is, learning is doing; it is not a question of having learnt and then acting. This is very important to understand because having learnt, and acting from that accumulation, is the very nature of the ‘me’, the ‘I’, the ego or whatever name one likes to give it. The ‘I’ is the very essence of the past and the past impinges on the present and so on into the future. In this there is constant division. Where there is learning there is a constant movement; there is no accumulation which can become the ‘I’.

Questioner: But in the technological field there must be accumulated knowledge. One can’t fly the Atlantic or run a car, or even do most of the ordinary daily things without knowledge.

Krishnamurti: Of course not, sir; such knowledge is absolutely necessary. But we are talking about the psychological field in which the ‘I’ operates. The ‘I’ can use technological knowledge in order to achieve something, a position or prestige; the ‘I’ can use that knowledge to function, but if in functioning the ‘I’ interferes, things begin to go wrong, for the ‘I’, through technical means, seeks status. So the ‘I’ is not concerned merely with knowledge in scientific fields; it is using it to achieve something else. It is like a musician who uses the piano to become famous. What he is concerned with is fame and not the beauty of the music in itself or for itself. We are not saying that we must get rid of technological knowledge; on the contrary, the more technological knowledge there is the better living conditions will be. But the moment the ‘I’ uses it, things begin to go wrong.

Questioner: I think I begin to understand what you are saying. You are giving quite a different meaning and dimension to the word learning, which is marvellous. I am beginning to grasp it. You are saying that meditation is a movement of learning and in that there is freedom to learn about everything, not only about meditation, but about the way one lives, drives, eats, talks, everything.

Krishnamurti: As we said, the essence of energy is meditation. To put it differently – so long as there is a meditator there is no meditation. If he attempts to achieve a state described by others, or some flash of experience….

Questioner: If I may interrupt you, sir, are you saying that learning must be constant, a flow, a line without any break, so that learning and action are one, or a constant movement? I don’t know what word to use, but I am sure you understand what I mean. The moment there is a break between learning, action and meditation, that break is a disharmony, that break is conflict. In that break there is the observer and the observed and hence the whole wastage of energy; is that what you are saying?

Krishnamurti: Yes, that is what we mean. Meditation is not a state; it is a movement, as action is a movement. And as we said just now, when we separate action from learning, then the observer comes between the learning and the action; then he becomes important; then he uses action and learning for ulterior motives. When this is very clearly understood as one harmonious movement of acting, of learning, of meditation, there is no wastage of energy and this is the beauty of meditation. There is only one movement. Learning is far more important than meditation or action. To learn there must be complete freedom, not only consciously but deeply, inwardly – a total freedom. And in freedom there is this movement of learning, acting, meditating as a harmonious whole. The word whole not only means health but holy. So learning is holy, acting is holy, meditation is holy. This is really a sacred thing and the beauty is in itself and not beyond it.