Interview by Fred Hall
This interview with Krishnamurti was recorded for television in Ojai 1975, in the context of the foundation of The Oak Grove School. Questions asked include: You are working toward the realisation of a new school in the Ojai Valley. Why another school? Would you mind explaining the words: ‘whole’, ‘sane’ and ‘holy’? You say a school is a place where one learns both the importance of knowledge and its irrelevance. Can you explain ‘irrelevance’? I’d like to ask you about three more words: ‘thought’, ‘love’, ‘death’. You have travelled far and spoken often and have been heard by millions, and you have created several schools. Do you feel that you have made a dent, that you have communicated meaningfully with large numbers of people?
Fred Hall was editor of Ojai Valley News and a radio pioneer. He was known for his interviews with famous musicians, bandleaders and singers of the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s. He lived Ojai for over 40 years and his newspaper often featured articles on Krishnamurti.
Fred Hall: Mr Krishnamurti, you’re talking now, working toward the realisation of a new school in the Ojai Valley, an educational centre. We have, I think, four or five private schools and an abundance of public schools – now I’m wondering why another school.
Krishnamurti: You’re asking what’s the difference between this school and the rest of the other schools.
K: Sir, first of all, why are we being educated at all? And when we are educated – public schools, private schools, universities and colleges and so on – you either condition the mind or you give emphasis to a particular segment of the brain, which is the cultivation of memory and the skill in action of that memory. That is what is generally considered education in the modern world, both in Europe and in America, and it’s going on in India, where we have got four schools, and one school in England and here. All that is a fragmentary kind of education. What we are trying to do is to educate the whole of man.
FH: Will you be starting with a very young child in elementary school?
K: Yes, from the age of 8 to 18, and so on.
FH: Would you require any particular background for this youngster to…
K: No, no. Naturally, we don’t want them to be drug addicts. (Laughs) Naturally, children who are divorced… their parents are divorced and all that kind of… it makes it awfully difficult.
FH: You don’t want a disturbed child.
K: But we can have one or two of them, but not a whole group of them.
FH: Are you talking of a residential school?
K: Residential as well as partly non-residential
FH: And you would offer a basic education, the kind that’s required.
K: Of course, stand everything on that.
K: First class, as we do in England and India – first class academic.
FH: Well now, just in reading some notes about the school, you refer to it as a place where one can learn a way of living that is whole, sane, and holy. Would you mind taking those three things, whole, sane, and holy, and explaining to me what you mean?
K: Yes. You see, the word whole, if you look in a good dictionary, means healthy, physically healthy. That means, non-drug, non-alcohol, non-smoke and the whole problem of keeping the body perfectly healthy – the right nutrition, good food, all that’s implied. Then, sane – that word sanity means a mind that isn’t crippled by belief, a mind that is not conditioned by propaganda, that’s capable of thinking clearly, freely, not bound to any particular tradition.
FH: Are any of us at 8 years of age, for example, in a position where…
K: Of course not, poor chaps! No, of course not, but as they progress, as they grow older, that’s is what we are going work, between the teacher and the student to have a right relationship between them, so that in discussing with them, both the teacher and the student uncondition themselves. That’s the whole problem of education, not just going to school and – you know. And whole means, also, holy – to treat life as something sacred, not just – you know. After all, man is not just an animal and not just a technological entity. We want to respect nature. We want to respect other human beings – not become violent, not become brutal, selfish. All that’s implied in that word, and much more – holy.
FH: Do you see a tendency today in school systems throughout the world to dwell on material things primarily, how to function in society?
K: Oh, obviously, obviously. Because everybody, in India as well, are concerned with how to get money, get a job, get a position, (inaudible) to get a position.
FH: They’re all trying to make their way.
K: They’re all trying that, and therefore it is becoming very materialistic in the sense, though they pretend to be very spiritual – you know – ‘I believe in this’ and one believes in that. That’s all a pretension, it is make-believe, but actually all of them are going after money.
FH: What’s the net result of this kind of education?
K: Well, you see what it is – accepting immoral governments, irresponsible action, accepting violence and immorality as a natural thing, and if you don’t you take to drugs or alcoholism, which is another form of drug, and sex which is rampant. You know what’s happening in this country, and it’s gradually, unfortunately, spreading all over the world.
FH: It started here then, you feel?
FH: America is the instigator?
K: I’m afraid so, and also America has, especially in Berkeley and the Californian west coast, has set an example in certain other things, not just freedom and inquiry. You know all that.
FH: You talk of a school as a place where one learns both the importance of knowledge and its irrelevance. Explain irrelevance.
K: You know, sir, what is the function of knowledge? What is the function of accumulated experience technologically, scientifically, sociologically? It becomes knowledge, stored up in the brain, stored up as a remembrance which will help you to act skilfully. And that is the function of knowledge, both the extreme form of science – you know, all that. And if we function only in that realm we are merely becoming computers – which we are.
FH: We have no life of our own.
K: I mean, not life of our own – we have become, through thousands of years, our brains are excellent computers. Not as good as the real electronic computers – not so good, but we function automatically, mechanically, superficially. Now, when you realise, when one realises the superficiality of a mechanical way of living, a repetitive way of living, a second-hand way of living – because all knowledge is second-hand. The man, original man may have a new knowledge but it becomes second-hand the next minute. If you live in that there’s actually no freedom. It’s like having an excellent computer and talking about freedom. It is irrelevant. And you must have freedom to learn, you must have freedom to inquire. I mean, take the whole Christian world and Christian belief and Christian – like the Hindus and Muslims. I’m taking Christianity as an example, I’m not running down Christianity.
K: As an example, they are conditioned to certain forms of belief, dogma, rituals, tradition, and so gradually what should be a human inquiry into truth becomes an acceptance of faith or belief or a dogma, or constant repetition of rituals. Therefore I feel it… knowledge has its place. It must have its place, otherwise you couldn’t do all this. But as long as we remain in that area all our life there are other areas which we neglect totally, which are slowly beginning to awaken.
FH: Are they beginning to awaken because of an awareness that we are missing these things?
K: No, no, unfortunately I think they are awakening to it because there is a great deal of mystery involved in it, a great deal of mythology, a great deal of a sense of, ‘This is so limited, let’s go and find something else which is more.’ It isn’t the understanding and the relevance of knowledge and its irrelevance.
FH: If you take a youngster who is 8 years old, or in that general area, who has grown up in an average family, who’s been conditioned by the prejudices and biases of…
K: …by the society he lives in, by the friends he has. The other day we were talking to somebody, this boy of 15 or 14 or whatever it was – he’s already becoming violent.
FH: How do you remove him or separate him from that kind of conditioning?
K: Now, if he comes to a school of this kind it’s our responsibility, the teacher’s responsibility, the educator’s responsibility, to see that, in discussing with the student, in talking, in having lessons and all that, that both the teacher and the student are conditioned – to inform them. It isn’t I am unconditioned, you’re not, or I am unconditioned, you are, but we are both conditioned.
FH: Of course.
K: And let us see if, through talk, through discussion, through watching, through observing ourselves, through all kinds of methods, uncondition ourselves, because otherwise we destroy each other. That’s what’s happening in the world.
FH: So your choice of teacher is really the key, isn’t it? It must be extremely difficult to recruit.
K: Of course, extremely difficult. Because what is happening too in the world, an educator is ill-paid, is not respected, and those who can’t get good jobs turn up to be teachers – you know, all that business.
FH: And those who have good jobs become cautious and very conservative.
K: Cautious and conservative. So we have tremendous difficulty in finding the right teachers.
FH: How are you going about it at the present time?
K: We are doing it by asking whoever is interested to come and stay with us, discuss it, go into it, see what we can do. It isn’t for money. Of course, you’ll have to have money to live and all the rest of it, but primarily to bring about a different relationship between human beings, between the educator and the educated.
FH: Let’s stop for just a moment and talk about the physical entity that will be this school. Where will it be and how might it begin, in terms of buildings and so on?
K: Sir, you know Oak Grove, down there.
FH: Where you talk from time to time.
K: Where I talk.
K: We’ve got that property now, and with an architect we’ve been over it. And there are about 100 acres there, all around there.
FH: 100 of the most beautiful acres in the world, I think.
K: I know. They are enchanted by that. And it is high up; it’s like a nest. The whole town along with Meiners Oaks and all those hideous buildings, but on top there it is completely like a new world. We’ve been there with the architect four or five times. We have more or less chosen the places with him. And we need money, you know, the whole business.
FH: Oh sure. And as I understand it money derived from your talks here this year will go toward that school.
K: Ah, no. No, I personally don’t take money at all. I have no bank account. I don’t go for money. Money doesn’t – you know – I have a horror of all that stuff. I’m not a guru who’s coining money and hoarding it up. (Laughs) They need money – and donations, asking people, begging, passing the hat around.
FH: You’ll start in a small way, then.
K: Oh, obviously.
K: Obviously, obviously. Small and slowly, carefully, not say, ‘Well, we’re going to have 500 students right off.’ We can’t. Probably start with 30 or 20.
FH: Will it be more than a school, will it be a meeting place, a place to meditate?
K: Yes. That is for the older – that’s why we’ve called it the educational centre, a place where older people can come to think, discuss, exchange, meditate, go into things, go into themselves, transform. It’s not just a meeting place; it is a very serious thing.
FH: Is it similar at all to the school in Brockwood Park, England?
K: Yes. No, look, (laughs) there’s four schools in India – one is just going to be started – there will be four altogether. Those four schools, each school I started, I helped to start – I’m not boasting about it, I’m just helping to start. Each school should be different from the other so that it’s a creative thing, not just imitate each school. And Brockwood is entirely different from the Indian schools. And we want this school in Ojai to be entirely different from the others. But they’ve all got this characteristic, that they are international, that they are non-authoritarian…
FH: We have a friend…
FH: …non-hierarchical – the Principle and then the student, and all the rest of it. It’s all together we are creating it, with the parents who take interest in the school, who come there, look at it, discuss it with us. It’s a total thing, not we start it and everybody looks on it. The parents, the teachers, the older people who are interested in all this, all of us creating this.
FH: I had wanted to ask you about the parents because that’s a third factor – students, teachers, parents.
K: Yes, parents. We have suggested that the parents should take part in all this. And the parents want their children to be educated this way. Not educated differently at school and go home and be, you know, pushed in another direction. That would make the poor child… put the poor child in a great conflict. So, there must be cooperation from the teachers, from the students, from the parents.
FH: And from the community to some extent.
K: Community, if they wish to join… come into it.
FH: I’d like to ask you about three more words, in the context of your views of them. If I may quote this little pamphlet, you say, ‘It is here one learns the importance of relationship which is not based on attachment or possessiveness. It is in the school one must learn about the movement of thought, love and death, for all this is the whole of life.’ Thought, love, death.
K: Yes. (Laughs)
FH: We talked a little about thought, less about love and death, I think.
K: Yes. You see, sir, it’s a very complex subject. You see, the whole Western world – for the moment I’m talking; I’m not contrasting the Eastern world – the Western world is based on thought. Their religion is based on thought.
FH: To some extent.
K: They invent the mysterious. Thought invents the saviour. Thought invents all the structure, structure of religion, and you see all the economic relationship. They call it love but it is essentially based on thought. I’m not saying it’s right or wrong, I’m pointing out. With the result that one lives a totally contradictory life. You believe in morality and act immorally. This is so obvious, what has happened in America during the last few years – politicians, you know the whole business of it. And the Eastern world said thought is – I don’t know, I don’t want to go too much into it – they said thought cannot possibly capture or understand the immeasurable, because thought is fragmented, thought is limited, finite, and through thought you cannot understand reality, nor truth, and so on. But they exercise thought to capture that. They said control thought, meditate, force your body, do this, don’t do that, follow your guru – all that nonsense. So both are the same. And we are saying thought has its right place. But thought cannot possibly understand the other. So you have to find energy – I’m sorry to use simple words – find energy that will not be created by thought. Say, for instance, thought creates the energy of competition, thought creates the energy of possession – I possess my house, my wife…
Here comes… it’s a neighbour’s dog.
Sit down. Or go home, won’t you?
FH: (Laughs) Why don’t you come over here and sit down? Come on. That-a-boy.
K: And so, the energy that thought creates breeds conflict. These are all facts, not my invention.
K: If you will observe it, you’ll see when you’re attached, you become the house.
FH: That holds the thoughts.
K: Of course. I mean, if I’m attached to that piece of furniture, I become that furniture; I am that furniture. If I possess my wife, as most of them do, what am I possessing? The idea of my wife, or my girl or whatever it is, or my boy. So, the image I have created about her, I possess.
FH: Yes, I do follow you. And you talk of thought as being finite. Love is infinite then?
K: No, therefore we must understand what love is. Is love something… pleasure? Is love pleasure? Which we have made it – sexual pleasure, love of the earth – it’s a pleasure. So is love pleasure? Pleasure means memory. That is, I had a marvellous experience and I record it, the brain records it, and that gives me great pleasure and I want to repeat it.
FH: So I love it.
K: I love it.
K: So, one has to find what love is. Is love pleasure, fulfilment, desire, and can a man who is ambitious love?
FH: That’s a good question.
K: Can a man who is competitive love? He might say, ‘I love you, my darling,’ to his wife or his girl, but on the one side he’s ambitious, competitive, aggressive, violent. So love can only exist when there is not this sense of ambitious, competitive, aggressive, violent mind.
FH: The third word: death.
K: Ah, death – oh yes. (Laughs) Do you want to talk seriously about it?
FH: In the time that we have, yes. You said very clearly here, and I imagine that many people reading this, having heard you many times and read your… they would know what you meant.
K: I’ll tell you what I mean. Sir, the ancient Egyptians – not the present Egyptians – the 4th millennia, they believed in reincarnation. In India and in Asia, they believe in that – believe that they are going to be born next life. The reward of next life or the punishment of next life depends on what you do now, how you behave, because behaviour is the highest form of relationship between man and man. If you don’t behave properly you’re going to pay for it next life – that is the – you follow?
FH: I do. Of course.
K: But they don’t behave, but they believe in reincarnation, which is nonsense. And in the Christian world they have their own ideas of resurrection.
FH: And of heaven and hell.
K: Heaven and hell. If you don’t believe in Christ or Jesus you go to hell. If you don’t accept certain dogmas and all the rest of it, you go to hell. You know all the Christian world, with their inquisition, with their excommunication, with their threat – all that. That’s part of fear. On one hand you say, ‘Love Jesus,’ and on the other hand you say if you don’t believe in that, you go to hell. I mean, it’s all so utterly irrational and stupid. So one has to find out, not believing, what happens when you die? Will you find out… will one find out what death means in a state of unconscious… disease? When you are diseased, unconscious, you can’t find out anything. Or an accident – you go out and you’re killed. Or creeping old age, become gaga, senile, and say, ‘Oh my God, I’m frightened of death.’ So, what is the significance – not that the organism goes on forever and ever, because we misuse it, we drink too much, we indulge too much, sex, you know the whole thing what is happening in the world – so we destroy the organism, which has its own intelligence – but to find out what psychologically means, death. It means really to be free of all that you have got. (Laughs) That’s all going to happen to you – your name, your wife, your house, your money, your everything. Now, can you voluntarily be free of all that, in living?
FH: I see.
K: So that you incarnate each day – you understand, sir? – make yourself anew.
FH: You talk of the death of the conditioned self.
K: Yes. No, death of the self, not conditioned self. Self is conditioned.
FH: Yes, yes.
K: It is the result of conditioning.
FH: There is one other basic question I have to ask you and that’s a kind of all-encompassing one. You have travelled far and spoken often and have been heard by millions, and you’ve created several schools and another now in the offering. Do you feel that you have made a dent, that you’ve communicated meaningfully with large numbers of people?
K: I hope so, sir.
FH: Do you feel that it’s been worth the effort, is worth the effort?
K: No, I would do it even if it was not… if it had no results. I don’t want a… I don’t seek a result – that’s a horror. Like a man who asked me, ‘How many disciples have you got?’ I said, ‘For God’s…’ You don’t, by the number. This is what I want to say; take it or leave it. This is real; face it. It is a thing that every man has got to face, whether you are… whatever it is. You’ve got to face this life. You’ve got to act righteously now. Because otherwise we’re destroying everything. We are destroying the whales – you know what’s happening in the…
K: You’re destroying the earth. You have destroyed people by the million – the communists, the Christians – you follow? – they have done all this. And I say, ‘For God’s sake, listen to what I am saying. Don’t accept it or don’t deny it – just look.’
FH: Do we delude ourselves entirely when we feel that we have become ‘civilised’?
K: I question – what is civilisation? Sir, 4,000 BC – somebody was telling me; I don’t read very much of these things, fortunately (laughs) – when they built the pyramid, it was mathematically perfect, it expresses the circumference of the world. They said the earth was round – 4,000 BC, millennia. Either we are evolving, in the sense becoming more inwardly concerned with life – not just getting money, cars, position, you know, all of the rest of it – otherwise, what’s the point of all this? What’s the point of killing people in the name of nationality or whatever, or God?
FH: Young people increasingly seem to be asking that question. Is that encouraging to you?
K: Yes, sir, but they won’t stick to it. You see what is happening in America. All these gurus are creating such havoc in this country, bringing their old, conditioned beliefs and theories and dogmas – it’s just the same as the other Christian world we’ve had.
FH: Why are they getting such an acceptance?
K: Because Americans want something new.
FH: A new answer, the old one doesn’t work?
K: But the new answer is clothed in different words and they think it’s marvellous, romantic. You’re told not to drink or not to have sex or to believe in Krishna – you follow? – all that business and it’s amusing for a little while, but they soon give that up and go after something else.
FH: So, we’re talking about this… really, we’re talking about this sort of approach to understanding. It’s no more important than an attachment to rock music, for example.
K: It’s the same thing. Whether you’re attached to rock music or attached to an image or attached to a belief, it’s exactly the same thing.
FH: How far are you along in recruiting teachers and is there any deadline or goal for starting?
K: No, no, no, no. We’ll start with two teachers or one teacher, with five boys or girls. That’s enough.
FH: And an elementary school in the beginning. Are you looking toward a higher…
K: Perhaps later on. We have to see how things go.
FH: What’s been your experience in other countries? Have you extended into the upper grades there?
K: Oh, college and all the rest.
FH: Have you? Have they been going long enough so that you have any kind of conclusions?
K: No. You see, sir, when we started in India, for example, we started having nothing. We slept on the ground, went to bed with the sun, got up with the sun, because there was no electricity, no lamps. We started very quietly, so-called primitively, with the very young and so on, and gradually it has grown into one of the best schools in India. But that is still not sufficient. And at Brockwood we have got… there are about 55 students only. We don’t want more. And there are thirteen nationalities there – no authority, you know, all the rest of it. So, you see, the difficulty is the world is too much. The world has become so appalling. I don’t know if you know all what’s going on. You must, of course. The parents, especially in India, want the students to earn their own livelihood, to have a job, get married and settle down; for god’s sake, be safe. And you know what that implies.
FH: We’re back to conformity.
K: Conformity, imitation, acceptance of things as they are, don’t create trouble. Not that we want trouble. Trouble is there, but don’t add more to it. Swallow it and stay with it, and follow the tradition that is in India. Accept authority. Parents are right. If they say become an engineer, become an engineer. If they say, do this and do that, follow the parents; they know better than you do. And here and in Europe they say, ‘To hell with all that. We want to do what we think is right.’ And they go off in a tangent, like everybody else. Must, because they’re inexperienced; they don’t know. They suffer, they see the misery all around them, they say, ‘I don’t want to belong to all this mess,’ but they create their own mess.
FH: Is there any one country you could single out that’s perhaps is superior to others?
K: No, I’m afraid not, sir. I’ve travelled in Australia and in India, all over Europe, but it’s all so messy. Because the politicians are not helping. The religious people are not helping. They’re not religious really; they call themselves religious. You know, sir, all, except perhaps Buddhism in the ancient days and partly Hinduism, never went to war. They said don’t kill. Now, I’ve never eaten meat in my life nor smoke and all the rest of it. I was brought up as a Brahmin and so on. I never touch meat. There in India they say don’t kill. Their tradition is don’t kill, but now they’ve forgotten all that, they kill. They eat meat and all that. It is spreading, this misery all around. And you see in England and in Europe, the immediate demands must be satisfied. Don’t bother with tomorrow or what’s going to happen. You know all this, sir.
FH: Yes, I certainly follow the news and am involved in covering it and of course I see it. Do you… you sound very pessimistic when I talk to you, but I don’t think you are.
K: No, I am not pessimistic. I am not pessimistic. On the contrary. But these are facts. This is what is going on. You must face it, not cover it up and say, ‘Well it’s the fault of the politicians, the fault of the priests.’ It’s your responsibility, each person’s responsibility for creating this horror.
FH: In a democracy such as we have, are there greater opportunities for correcting?
K: Greater opportunities and greater corruption.
FH: And greater corruption.
K: Look. You know it.
FH: Is there any way the community here can help now toward the beginning of the school?
K: Yes, sir, take interest, be responsible, find out, help to build it, help to give money. You follow, sir? If I’m interested in something, I’ll be part of the circus. (Laughs) I think we become irresponsible by saying it’s the fault of somebody else. ‘It’s the fault of the politician,’ or say politics will change, will solve all of our problems. Of course not. Our problems lie much deeper, in ourselves.
FH: We can hope there are a few political leaders because of the power they wield it may have some recognition of that. Do you think that there are?
K: I’ve talked to many politicians. I’ve talked to cabinet members. My Lord! Some of them used to be my old friends. My God, sir! Once you get into power, something happens to them. They are decent people, incorruptible, nice, friendly. They went around meeting – you know, none of the phoney stuff – the moment they get into a position, something happens to them.
FH: Seems infallible, does it not?
K: Infallible. And therefore power is evil.
FH: I want to wish you a great deal of luck…
K: No, sir, please.
FH: …in your new venture here, and we’ll be looking forward to your talks.
K: All right.
FH: Starting when?
FH: This Saturday. Thank you very much.
Krishnamurti in Ojai, 9 April 1975