The following are three excerpts from chapter 1 of ‘On Education’ by J Krishnamurti. The full book is available for download here.
Education is not only learning from books, memorizing some facts, but also learning how to look, how to listen to what the books are saying, whether they are saying something true or false. All that is part of education. Education is not just to pass examinations, take a degree and a job, get married and settle down, but also to be able to listen to the birds, to see the sky, to see the extraordinary beauty of a tree, and the shape of the hills, and to feel with them, to be really, directly in touch with them. As you grow older, that sense of listening, seeing, unfortunately disappears because you have worries, you want more money, a better car, more children or less children. You become jealous, ambitious, greedy, envious; so you lose the sense of the beauty of the earth. You know what is happening in the world. You must be studying current events. There are wars, revolts, nation divided against nation. In this country too there is division, separation, more and more people being born, poverty, squalor and complete callousness. Man does not care what happens to another so long as he is perfectly safe. And you are being educated to fit into all this.
Do you know what it means to attend, to pay attention? When you pay attention, you see things much more clearly. You hear the bird singing much more distinctly. You differentiate between various sounds. When you look at a tree with a great deal of attention, you see the whole beauty of the tree. You see the leaves, the branch, you see the wind playing with it. When you pay attention, you see extraordinarily clearly. Have you ever done it? Attention is something different from concentration. When you concentrate, you don’t see everything. But when you are paying attention, you see a great deal. Now, pay attention. Look at that tree and see the shadows, the slight breeze among the leaves. See the shape of the tree. See the proportion of the tree in relation to other trees. See the quality of light that penetrates through the leaves, the light on the branches and the trunk. See the totality of the tree. Look at it that way, because I am going to talk about something to which you have to pay attention. Attention is very important, in the class, as well as when you are outside, when you are eating, when you are walking. Attention is an extraordinary thing.
Learn about everything in yourself, because if you learn from yourself about yourself, then you will not be a secondhand human being. So you should, if I may suggest, from now on, find out how to live entirely differently and that is going to be difficult, for I am afraid most of us like to find an easy way of living. We like to repeat what other people say, what other people do, because it is the easiest way to live – to conform to the old pattern or to a new pattern. We have to find out what it means never to conform and what it means to live without fear. This is your life, and nobody is going to teach you, no book, no guru. You have to learn from yourself, not from books. There is a great deal to learn about yourself. It is an endless thing, it is a fascinating thing, and when you learn about yourself from yourself, out of that learning wisdom comes. Then you can live a most extraordinary, happy, beautiful life.
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