Life Demands Cooperation

From Krishnamurti’s Book BEGINNINGS OF LEARNING

Krishnamurti: We discussed in principle what cooperation is, what it means to cooperate, to work together, to do things together. How are you going to learn about it – is it just a theory? A small community is living here at Brockwood. Any civilized man – civilised in the sense of cultured, thoughtful, intelligent – must cooperate, life demands cooperation – not with what you like, but the spirit of cooperation. You said, “I want to learn about cooperation.” Now how do you learn about it? Because in any cultured society there must be cooperation; it can’t exist otherwise. How are you going to learn about it?

Questioner: In discussing it. There is some learning involved in that.

Krishnamurti: I am asking what do you mean by learning about cooperation? We both agree, life cannot go on if there is no cooperation. Where do I begin?

Questioner: By cooperating.

Krishnamurti: What do you mean by that word cooperation, how do you cooperate, with whom, why? Where do I learn it?

Questioner: By doing it.

Krishnamurti: What do you mean by doing it – investigate, learn.

Questioner: Find out why you want to cooperate.

Krishnamurti: So are you going to learn? Is the process of learning asking this question? And also, do you have the spirit of cooperation, the feeling? Do you really, deeply want to cooperate? Don’t you have to begin there? – to learn whether you really, deep down, want to cooperate. Because if you don’t know what it means, you will never know what it means not to cooperate. If the State says, “Go and kill,” unless you know what cooperation is, how do you know when not to cooperate?

13 Now tell me, please, how are you going to find out for yourself whether you have the spirit of cooperation – not with me, or about something – but the feeling of it. Isn’t that the beginning of learning about cooperation? Where do you begin to learn – from a book? If you say, “Learning begins with a book”, then you have the encyclopaedias, a vast knowledge accumulated in pages or in the brain of a teacher, but is that where you begin to learn? For instance, either I believe in an idea, and therefore I want you and others to cooperate with me in carrying out that idea, which is generally called cooperation; because we both believe in that idea, in a principle, in a system. Or, we have the feeling of cooperation – not about what and with whom, but the feeling. Do you deeply understand the meaning of that word? I mean not only working together but feeling together that certain things must be done – the feeling first, and the action.

When you say you want to learn in a community, in a school like this, there is a problem. There are older people and the younger generation, the teacher and the students and others coming here; there must be a way to live happily, intelligently, actively, with a great deal of energy. One must have this feeling, otherwise we’ll all pull in different directions. So I want to learn and my first enquiry in learning is to find out if I really want to cooperate, if I really have the feeling of it. Have you? If you don’t have it find out why. This extraordinary quality, this feeling for cooperation, building together, doing things together, this is what has built this world.

Questioner: What do you mean by, “It has built this world?”

Krishnamurti: The world, in the sense of the railway, the post office, sending a rocket to the moon – three hundred thousand men were involved in that and had to cooperate; they cooperated for patriotic or financial reasons, reasons of vanity and so on. There, they cooperated round an idea in which was involved prestige, competition with Russia and so on. Now can there be real, deep, lasting cooperation when there is a motive? If I have any form of selfish regard, a self-interested motive, can there be cooperation in the sense we want to understand it?

Questioner: You want to get something out of it, you don’t have to do it.

Krishnamurti: Therefore find out if you have got the feeling of getting something out of it. You are beginning to learn something which you can’t learn from a book.

Questioner: The idea of getting something out of it doesn’t necessarily come in. If we want to build a house, I see that it will be easier for you and me to work along together. We organize it from the start and we cooperate with one another to build the house. Therefore I have the idea of building a house; we are going to get a house out of it, you and I.

Krishnamurti: Quite – go further. You can go a little deeper.

Questioner: So what happens when you want a white house and I don’t.

Krishnamurti: That’s it. You want a square room and she wants a long room. You think you know much better than she does. Look what you are doing. Dominic said just now that we will cooperate if we want to build a house together, because he is going to get a house out of it. But if we begin to disagree on what kind of rooms it’s going to have, we’ll fall out. So what does that mean?

Questioner: If you start with the spirit of cooperation and you both want to build something together, won’t you still have a problem?

Krishnamurti: You’ll still have the problem – how will you tackle it? You and I want to cooperate, we want to build a house, you want a square room and I want a long one. And yet we both have the spirit of cooperation. What shall we do?

Questioner: We try to find out why you want a long room and why I want a square one.

Krishnamurti: Which means what?

Questioner: We cooperate.

Krishnamurti: Which means we are both willing to yield. You don’t stick to your point; I don’t stick to mine. Which means what?

Questioner: You don’t have a fixed idea, so you are learning.

Krishnamurti: It means you have a pliable mind, you don’t say, “I must have it”, you are willing to change, which means you are not holding on to your particular desire, to your particular opinion.

Questioner: Say you are willing to think about it and the other person isn’t.

Krishnamurti: What will you do?

Questioner: I guess you would do what the other person wants – if you are willing to discuss and they are not.

Krishnamurti: That’s just it, what do you do if you want to cooperate and another doesn’t?

Questioner: See the point of that person.

Krishnamurti: But in a community like this, what are you to do?

Questioner: (1) You have to talk it over with them until they are back to cooperating. You see, I would be the one who would be yielding – I’m looking at it from my point of view – I’d be willing to talk about it. I don’t know what I would do if the other person didn’t want to.

Questioner: (2) Perhaps instead of talking about the room you would start talking about cooperation itself, because this is the cause of the problem.

Questioner: (3) And you have to have the spirit of cooperation to begin with.

Krishnamurti: But I haven’t got it. Take a wider issue. Generally we worship the intellect, the clever person who passes exams brilliantly is the most respected. Intellectually he is sharp, alive, good at his subject; playing games and doing anything in the garden is a bore to him. See how important it is that we should not only have a good brain, but also that we should be able to do things – to garden, cook, wash up – not just be one sided. Intelligence implies being able to do things, not to say, “I don’t like gardening, it bores me, I only like to study.” That is a lopsided way of living.

Now I’m going to propose that here we should not only have really first-class brains, that is to be able to think logically, sanely, dispassionately, not personally. But also one must have skill in action. You know Yoga? – that word also means “skill in action”, not just doing a few exercises. How are you going to have that skill in action?

Questioner: Through practice.

Krishnamurti: Which means doing things. I would like to suggest – I have done a great deal of it in my life – that everyone should do some kind of work with the earth: gardening, planting, tending it – not just say, “I’ll plant, you’ll go and water.” Looking after it, caring for it – that gives you an opportunity to care for something. Have you ever dug the soil? – you get in touch with the earth. I am going to propose that there should be not only an intellectual activity of the highest order here, but also a great deal of intense, active, clear thinking, working, studying at the highest level. And also to have skill in action, which is doing things. When you play the guitar, play it properly, not just strum. Do everything skilfully, and one of the ways to learn about it is to do things in the garden, play games and so on. Now I suggest this and you say, “I don’t want to garden, it bores me.” What are you going to do with such a person?

Questioner: Find out why he or she won’t do it.

Krishnamurti: And then what?

Questioner: There might be a reason why…

Krishnamurti: Find out. He says to you, “I don’t like it, I’m bored with it.”

Questioner: You have a right not to, if you don’t want to.

Krishnamurti: You are all too quick with answers. I don’t want to garden and I don’t want to work in the kitchen. You see what happens – gradually I withdraw. And round me I am going to collect people who don’t want to do things.

Questioner: That’s just one thing you don’t want to do.

Krishnamurti: But why not? Intelligence says you must be good at these things and not say, “I don’t want to play games.” You are going to live here much more than you do at home this is your home, my home, other people’s home; it is our home. Our home means also the garden, the lawn, the planting of the trees, the looking after the trees. As I am going to live here, I can’t say, “I don’t want to look after the garden.” It is our home; I can’t leave it to you. How will you show me or help me to learn that we must do things together, or learn about doing things together. It is as much your responsibility as Mrs. Simmons’, or someone else’s. How will you help me, who says, “I am bored with games – leave me alone with my pop music or with my book. As I feel at home, I am going to leave my pyjamas on the floor in my room.” What will you do? “I’m going to leave my shoes in the corridor, or I’ll leave my room untidy, I don’t care. At home in California, in London, in Paris, I behave as I want to. Here, why are you telling me what I should do?” And then somebody comes along and tells you, “Please, don’t do that.” You reply, “You are authoritarian, this is our home I can do whatever I like.”

So how will you teach or help me to learn that to live intelligently implies playing games, looking after the garden, studying, doing things with one’s hands, not just with one’s brain. Personally, I like to do everything, gardening, milking cows, looking after chickens, looking after babies, changing diapers – I have done all kinds of things. I like it, nobody imposes it on me, and that’s the way to live, that’s the most intelligent way: having the capacity to do things.

Now what will you do with a person in this school, who says, “I’m going to leave my room as I like – I sleep in it. I am orderly because I can find what I want among this disorder.” Where do you start learning? We all want to live together, be happy together, do things together – life is doing things together. So please tell me how you propose to learn about all this.

Questioner: You start in a spirit of cooperation.

Krishnamurti: If you have got it, how are you going to help me to learn about it?

Questioner: You have to make a rule.

Krishnamurti: Then what happens? The moment you make a rule I’m going to break it, because I want to be free. People went to America because they did not like various impositions, they said they wanted to be free. They left the old country and went to a new country. They said, “We’ll start anew, no bishops, no kings.” Gradually the monster has grown there too. So do we see the importance of having a good brain that can think, that can study, that can observe and learn objectively, sanely?

Questioner: Sir, what happens if we are born with an insufficient brain?

Krishnamurti: If you are born with an insufficient brain, then I’m afraid there is nothing much you can do.

Questioner: You talk about it as if there is something we can do.

Krishnamurti: Obviously, because if we have got insufficient brains we are not necessarily moronic.

Questioner: I mean feebleminded.

Krishnamurti: If you are feebleminded, this can be corrected by recognising it. I’m going to do something about it, I don’t just say, “I am feebleminded” and sit back.

Questioner: Then what do you do?

Krishnamurti: Learn that I am feebleminded.

Questioner: Some people have a greater capacity to do things than others.

Krishnamurti: So learn. If I have the capacity to do one thing better than another, it can lead to lopsided living. I am a human being; I’ve got extraordinary capacities. I must exercise all those capacities, otherwise I’m not a human being. I become merely a technician. If you say, “I’m not really interested in anything like music, or looking at the loveliness of the day – leave me with my mathematics,” then I say, “You are feebleminded.”

Questioner: But isn’t there something such as inherent capacity that we are born with.

Krishnamurti: Anything can be changed.

Questioner: Can we all be Beethovens?

Krishnamurti: I want to learn: I don’t want to be like anybody, I don’t want to become like Christ or Buddha or Beethoven or Einstein! I want to see things differently, have a way of living entirely differently. As a group of people living together, who are encouraged to feel that here is their home, what will you do if somebody says, “Sorry, I don’t feel like working in the garden, ever?”

Questioner: (1) Maybe it’s not their home.

Questioner: (2) I suppose it’s no good splitting up into groups? – those who like gardening and those who like doing something else.

Questioner: (3) If someone doesn’t like gardening, maybe he doesn’t feel this is his home, maybe he doesn’t belong here.

Krishnamurti: Right, he doesn’t belong here. How will you convey it to him? Will you say: “You come here to be educated in the real sense of that word and apparently you don’t like to be educated; you want to remain a savage.” Will you push him out? He came here too for education and he doesn’t know what it means to be educated, he thought only in terms of revolt against the Establishment, against the professor, saying, “I know everything, who are you to tell me?” And he doesn’t know what that word “cooperation” means. You may have to get rid of him. Will you do that?

Questioner: Does that mean we have to get to like what learning is?

Krishnamurti: That’s what we are doing now.

Questioner: That’s what we’re doing; so we don’t have to worry about somebody else.

Krishnamurti: But suppose at the end of four months I still keep my room like a pigsty, what are you going to do with me?

Questioner: If I really agreed with you that having a clean room is necessary, it wouldn’t ever be dirty again.

Krishnamurti: But you don’t. You are all children, with heavy bodies, with a lot of kick, but children.

Questioner: Well then, what’s the reason?

Krishnamurti: Have patience to find out, tell me.

Questioner: What would you do? Talk to them?

Krishnamurti: First we come to a place like this to learn. Learning is not only from a book, but learning together what cooperation means. And learning together what it means to find out that man has always sought security: security in God, in marriage, socially – in everything man wants security. Security means passing an exam, getting a degree: that gives you the promise of security. Here is a place to find out if there is such a thing as security. Here is a place where we are going to educate ourselves, which means learning together what it means to cooperate, what it means to find out what love is. We are completely ignorant of so many things.

Questioner: May I ask something? When someone is violent in his practice of yoga – in the way he does it – and you are constantly warning him, mostly this does not help the person to realize his own violence; he may at the time realize it, but he keeps on. In the same way, one could oneself have been doing certain things for a very long time until suddenly one realizes it.

Krishnamurti: True.

Questioner: Is it possible to educate someone who has not gone through a natural kind of maturation, like a plant? So what is the reaction of a person, who has grown a little more, to the person who has not grown? And if the person, for instance, has not grown to the awareness of the need for a still mind, the necessity of a still mind, how can you help another? – you cannot. So how can we act here?

Krishnamurti: He’s talking about Yoga. He asks, when you stand this way, take this posture, do you get the idea first, or do you do it as the yoga teacher is saying it? You see the difference? He says, “Sit this way,” and he shows you. Do you have the image of how he sits and then carry it out, or in the very observing of how he is sitting, are you doing it? As he is showing it to you, do you have the idea of what he’s doing and then carry out the idea? Or are you doing it as he is showing it to you? Which do you do?

Questioner: We do it while he’s showing it.

Krishnamurti: Which means what? Go into it. Which means, doesn’t it? that you are listening very carefully to what he’s saying – the very listening is the doing. Not first listen, then have the idea, and then carry out the idea – which is entirely different. That needs education, that needs growth. Look, I have done yoga for many years. I’ve had several yoga teachers, and I did it as they told me; which means there was no contradiction between the doing and the listening. If you first create the idea, the image, then it will take an infinitely long time, then you need practice. But if the teacher says, “Do this” and you do it, you are doing it. You may do it badly, but you are doing it. See the importance of this. Most of us listen, then create an idea, and then carry out the idea. Here, if you listen and do, the idea is gone. The cultivation of the idea and carrying out the idea needs time – which is called maturity, growth.

Questioner: Let us say someone is doing a yoga posture and I say, “Be violent, try to force it,” that would be preventing them to see…

Krishnamurti: I’ll show you something – touch the floor with your hands. Say, you’ve never done it, you may not be able to do that. What do you do? You listen, you may not be able to touch the floor, but you are doing it. The actual doing of it may take a little time, but the “doing of it” is there already.

Questioner: You haven’t completed it, but you’re on the way to doing it.

Krishnamurti: That’s it.

Questioner: Because you’re not resisting.

Krishnamurti: The moment you have an idea you are already resisting.

Questioner: It would be the same about cooperation.

Krishnamurti: About everything.

Questioner: (1) But in Yoga suppose he attempts to do something that’s wrong…

Questioner: (2) Maybe you have to do it anyway, because if you don’t do what he does, you can’t find out if it’s wrong.

Krishnamurti: Therefore you have to find out if he is the right teacher. I’m not a professional but I’ve done a great deal of yoga. There is a teacher who is supposed to be the teacher of other teachers. He says, “To do yoga properly, is to do it without any effort. If there is an effort it’s not yoga.” See the reason for it. Your body is not subtle, it’s rigid, therefore it takes a week or more but don’t force it. If you force, then you exert muscles in a wrong direction, which is bad for them; so do it very gently, take a week, a month, but do it slowly. If the teacher tells you, “Sit that way,” you may do it wrongly, but begin, don’t carry out the idea. In the same way, you listen to the feeling of cooperation, and you already have it if you’re listening to it. Don’t create an idea about cooperation and then carry that idea out.

Questioner: Can we take orderliness, for instance?

Krishnamurti: Yes. We need order; if you are untidy, if are unpunctual, we can’t live together, it’ll become impossible. We have to have a certain order. Don’t create a picture of it: that I want order and you don’t want order. We have to live together in a place like this. To live together implies order. So I have to have order. Do you listen to it without any resistance, or are you going to fight it? Please listen to what is being said without any resistance, knowing that living together needs order. If I don’t bathe and I say, “What’s wrong with it? I’m all right. I like my smell” – then we create disorder.

Are you listening now to the word “cooperation”, to the word “order”, not creating a picture of it? – then you are immediately orderly.

Questioner: Don’t words like order and cooperation mean something to us, in so far as we’ve experienced them?

Krishnamurti: Yes, of course they do. Which means what? You’ve already made a picture, had an experience of what order is, what cooperation is, and that becomes the resistance. Whereas if we say, “Look, let’s find out, learn what it means to be orderly, what it means to cooperate,” then we can’t have a conclusion about it, because we’re learning. If the yoga teacher says to you, “Sit this way,” you may not be able to, it may take a week or a month, but the way you listen to it is far more important than sitting rightly. The sitting rightly will come, but the listening to what he says is instantaneous.

Questioner: Usually for us to listen that way, we have to have a great deal of confidence.

Krishnamurti: Why should you have confidence? I’m telling you and you listen. Why should you have confidence in me?

Questioner: Because you might be telling me to kill.

Krishnamurti: Why should you have confidence in me? First learn the art of listening, learn – not from me. Because I don’t know, I may say things that are wrong; therefore listen to find out what is true and what is false, which is to become sensitive. You cannot become sensitive – which is intelligence – if you are obstinate, if you resist when someone says to you: “This is what I think.” The important thing is the art of listening.

Questioner: But if someone is telling you what they think, isn’t that them telling you?

Krishnamurti: Of course. I’m your yoga teacher, I’m supposed to know something about it, I may not know the whole of it, but I know a little bit of it and I teach you what I know. And in teaching you I’m also learning.