Without Clarity, Skill Is a Dangerous Thing

From Krishnamurti’s Book THE WHOLENESS OF LIFE

When one has developed a skill, it gives a certain sense of wellbeing and security. And that skill, born of knowledge, must invariably, in its action, become mechanical. Skill in action is what one has sought because it gives a certain position in society, a certain prestige. Living in that field all the time, as one does in modern society, with all its economic demands, that knowledge and skill become, not only additive but also invariably a repetitive mechanical process that gradually gathers its own stimulation, its own arrogance, and power. In that power one has security.

Society, at the present time, is demanding more and more skill – whether one is an engineer, a technological expert, a scientist, a psychotherapist, etc. etc – but there is great danger – is there not? – is seeking all this skill resulting from accumulated knowledge, for in this increase there is no clarity. When skill becomes all important in life, not only because it is the means of livelihood, but because one is totally educated for that purpose – all our schools, colleges and universities are directed for that purpose – then that skill invariably brings about a certain sense of power, of arrogance and self-importance.

The art of learning is not only in the accumulation of the knowledge necessary for skilful action, but also in that learning which is without accumulation. There are two types of learning: acquiring and accumulating a great deal of knowledge through experience, through books, through education which may be used in skilful action; and another form in which one never accumulates and in which one never registers anything other than that which is absolutely necessary. In the first form, the brain is registering and accumulating knowledge, storing it up and acting from that store skilfully, or unskilfully. In the second form, one becomes so totally aware that one only registers that which is absolutely necessary and nothing else. Then the mind is not cluttered and influenced with the movement of accumulated knowledge.

In this art of learning, accumulating knowledge, by registering only the things that are necessary for skilful action, there is the non-registering of any psychological reactions; the brain is employing knowledge where function and skill are necessary and yet the brain is free not to register in the psychological area. It is very arduous this, to be so totally aware that one only registers that which is necessary and not, absolutely does not, register anything which is unnecessary. Someone insults you, someone flatters you, someone calls you this or that – no registration. This gives tremendous clarity. To register and yet not to register so that there is no psychological building up of the me, the structure of the self. The structure of the self arises only when there is the registration of everything that is not necessary; that is: giving importance to one’s name, one’s experience, one’s opinions and conclusions, all that is the intensifying of the energy in the self – which is always distorting.

The art of learning gives this extraordinary clarity and if there is great skill in action without that clarity then it breeds self-importance, whether the self-importance is identified with oneself or with a group, or with a nation. Self-importance denies clarity. There cannot be compassion without clarity and because there is no compassion skill has become so important. If there is no clarity there is no awakening of intelligence, that intelligence which is neither yours nor mine, it is intelligence. That intelligence has its own action, which is non-mechanistic and therefore without cause.

As in the art of seeing and of listening, in the art of learning there is no movement of thought. Thought is necessary to accumulate knowledge to function skilfully, otherwise thought has no place whatsoever. This brings tremendous clarity. In such clarity there is no centre from which one is functioning; no centre which has been put together by thought, as the ‘me’, mine; for where there is that centre there must be a circumference, where there is a circumference there is resistance, there is the division which is one of the fundamental causes of fear. Without clarity skill becomes a most destructive thing in life – which is what is happening in the world; men can go to the moon and put the flag of their country there, but that is not from clarity; they can kill each other through wars as a result of the extraordinary development of technology, all from the movement of thought, which is not clarity. Thought can never understand that which is whole, that which is immeasurable, which is timeless.