The e-Newsletter of the Krishnamurti Foundation of America



Creative Emptiness


"This creative emptiness, this ardent passivity, is not brought about through an act of will. It is extremely difficult for those who are slaves to distraction, who are incessantly active, who are ever striving to become, to be alertly passive. If you would understand, the mind heart must be still; there must be heightened sensitivity to receive and there can be tranquility only in understanding. This silent awareness is not an act of determina-tion, but it comes into being when thought-feeling is not caught in the net of becoming.
In this living silence is Reality. Only in utter simplicity, when all craving has ceased, is the bliss of Reality.”
— J. Krishnamurti, Ojai 5th public talk, June 24, 1945.

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Editor: Troy Sumrall
troy@kfa.org | Ph 805-646-2726, x30

IN THIS ISSUE                                                            

By Troy Sumrall
Krishnamurti asks the question, "Is creativity something totally different, something which we can all have - not only the specialist, the professional, the talented and the gifted?"  

Oak Grove School has a tremendous resource in the work of Krishnamurti. True creativity can emerge because every child is encouraged to discover their world and inquire into its richness and simplicity.

The May Gathering, Summer Programs, and more.

K in Rome
“Is creativity something totally different, something which we can all have—not only the specialist, the professional, the talented and the gifted? I think we can all have this extraordinary mind that is really free from the burdens which man has imposed upon himself. Out of that sane, rational, healthy mind, something totally different comes out which may not necessarily be expressed as painting, literature or architecture. Why should it? If you go into this fairly deeply, you will find that there is a state of mind which actually has no experience whatsoever.”

-- J. Krishnamurti
Ojai California, 3rd Q&A meeting,
May 13, 1980, on the subject “Creativity.”

By Troy Sumrall

Last time, we left off our discussion at the point of introducing some of the limiting factors blocking creativity, as explored in the book “Science, Order, and Creativity,” by David Bohm and David Peat. Specifically we focused on Bohm’s comment about “making creativity subservient to external goals.” As in the example of chimps and children, the external reward system inevitably appears to flatline the creative pulse.

The philosophy that we need rewards is a key factor in American education, which, in Bohm’s words, “holds that a system of rewards is essential for effective learning. This alone is a tremendous barrier to creativity.”

Factory Workers

The scene is awe-inspiring and deeply disturbing. Hundreds, if not thousands, of figures stretch into the distance until they are just a blur of humanity, indistinguishable in their face masks and uniform pink overalls, blue aprons and white rubber boots.

It gets more complicated. We place great value on fixed knowledge and techniques, which, Bohm suggests, overemphasizes authority as determining the generative order of society. This is a profoundly important point. I can’t say it better than Bohm, “What is involved is not only the authority of the teacher as a source of knowledge that is never to be questioned; even more, the general authority of knowledge itself as a source of truth that should never be doubted.” The consequence of such limitation is to restrict the free movement of mind needed to sustain creativity.

EinsteinBohm suggests this restrictive framework leads to a certain fear of inquiry into fundamental questions and, as a consequence, we “look to experts and ‘geniuses’ whenever any difficulty or basic problem is encountered.”  I doubt we need further evidence that there is a lot of running to gurus, priests and therapists for answers. Or that authority is grossly pervasive in educational, family, political and religious areas. It seems we’re afraid to be free.

Bohm doesn’t dismiss the necessity for reasonable authority, nor does he imply that others don’t have knowledge to impart. What he says is that we should look at our attitude towards this knowledge and ask if we are allowing ourselves the freedom to question and challenge it. It won’t do just to change the structure of reward and punishment in education if the rest of society’s carrot and stick structures aren’t changed along with it.

Krishnamurti often spoke of a total change in the mind of man. It starts with each person, individually. Can we completely abandon the carrot and stick in our own lives?

“Truth is not a reward. If one is to understand it, any form of reward and punishment must be totally set aside. Authority implies fear. And to discipline oneself according to that fear denies one’s own clarity and honesty.”
                — J. Krishnamurti, 4th public talk, Amsterdam, May 19,1968 

Finally, can we understand, creativity is not something we can go get? There is no ‘how to be creative.' The fact that there are 57 million references to creativity on Google tells us something. Have you noticed that the more anything is written about, the more pundits and so-called experts there are, the less anyone knows as fact?

That makes sense of course. If something is a fact, there's not much else to say. If something is vague, then everyone who wants to can have an opinion. The noise level increases, people get entrenched in one opinion over another.

Where are we, then, in our discussion of creativity? We started with creativity having no relation to external goals; that reward and punishment limits, if not extinguishes, creative capacity. We explored social and personal barriers to the freedom that nourishes creativity - the unchallenged assumptions that are simply part of the culture.  We "nourish" creativity in our children through the carrot and stick approach, thinking it is most effective. We have the desire to run to an authority for answers, and we even assume that knowledge itself is authority, and we are afraid of challenging that alleged authority.

Finally we are left with Krishnamurti's challenge to set aside reward and recognize our fear creates an external authority, which by definition restricts freedom of mind, thus restricting the creative. We attach-to social norms, to authority, the book or the priest, the guru-to assuage fear. Can we, individually, end that attachment?

“When you end something like attachment, there is a different activity going on; to incarnate in the present now. That is creativity. It is up to you if you want to do all this.”
                  — J. Krishnamurti, Ojai 5th public talk, June 24, 1945

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Education was of primary importance to Krishnamurti.  He had particular sensitivity to the dilemma of how to raise children so they can both cope with and create change in a troubled world.  He founded many schools of which there are now six in India, Brockwood Park in England, and Oak Grove School in Ojai, California.  Here is what he said about a school environment which is in alignment with true learning:

"School is a place where one learns about the totality, the wholeness of life. Academic excellence is absolutely necessary, but a school teaches more than that. It is a place where the teacher and the taught explore not only the outer world, the world of knowledge, but also their own thinking, their behavior."


Relaxed childFor those of you not familiar with Oak Grove, here is a brief snap shot. The school has 200 students spanning an Early Childhood Learning Program all the way through 12th grade in High School.  Krishnamurti himself created the basic design parameters for the classrooms.  The buildings are made of natural wood that blends with the lush beauty of the California coastal valleys and mountains. Classrooms are deliberately small, so that expansion cannot destroy the intimate classroom atmosphere in which teachers facilitate the unfolding of each child's process of discovery.  The dynamic is non-competitive, and very personal. 


Winding, oak-shaded paths meander though the campus. Organic gardens function as outdoor classrooms for learning about sustainable living practices.  Much of the produce grown in the gardens flows into the prize-winning vegetarian hot lunch program. 

Hi School Project_Sustainable Housing


Creativity flourishes in every aspect of school life, from the cycling program, to kayaking, from studio arts to the science laboratories.  By high school, students are taking advantage of a professional photography studio, a music recording facility, digital filmmaking electives, and a robust outdoor learning program that combines respect and love of nature with sailing, camping, rock climbing and water sports.  Although competition is not part of how students are channeled to learn, Oak Grove students participate in interschool volleyball, soccer and basketball activities. 


Travel is an important part of getting students ready for a bigger world.  Camping trips take 8th graders to whale and turtle sanctuaries in Baja California, and high school students to the great South West.  The 12th grade curriculum includes a month-long trip to India for seniors, who visit other Krishnamurti schools and explore relationships with young people who live half a world away.


In a nutshell, students are encouraged toward intellectual depth, aesthetic and environmental sensibility, social responsibility, physical vitality and an open-minded spirit of inquiry. 


High School students come from all over the world and English as a second language tutoring is available for 9th and 10th grade.  Perhaps because of the profundity and wholeness of Krishnamurti's approach to education, Oak Grove's seniors graduate with higher than average SAT scores and go on to top universities.  Having studied and pondered many of life's enduring questions, they bring a thoughtful perspective to relationships, and their warmth and ease are often remarked on.  There are also opportunities for parents to learn more about Krishnamurti's approach to education, so that they can be in harmony with and bring continuity to their child's school experience. 


Teachers, too, spend time exploring Krishnamurti's work on education, and support each other in finding the ways to lead a classroom without the predictable but suppressive methodologies based on reward and punishment.


Oak Grove still struggles to meet its budget and to take good care of the exceptional campus.  Teachers work for less pay than the national averages for the public schools.  And many families receive financial aid, so that the student body remains diverse and multi-cultural.

The following is an excerpt from an essay by a 12th grade student on returning from a month-long trip to India with her class. 

I’m in India!

What I’m really trying to describe here is how in India, every tiny, insignificant detail is beautiful. Some things were utterly breathtaking: an iridescent snake curled around an orchid, fields of yellow and white love butterflies, stepping barefoot in muddy elephant tracks, hundreds of voices coming together every morning in song, a sky with more stars than ever before, being welcomed, fed, and appreciated by strangers who spoke no English, picking cranberry colored coffee that tasted like figs, our whole group talking in complete darkness, feeling so Junasafe with every single person on the trip, watching my classmates unashamed to dance and sing in front of everyone, traveling thousands of miles only to end up exactly where we started, then realizing that the thing that had changed was us.
     Most of all I love the sounds. The jungle is ever present and penetrating there: lounging about we could still pick up on the fact that we were in the tropics. The birds, frogs and crickets all intoxicated us with their contagious cacophony of copulation and bliss.
       Going to the beach with its brightly colored boats, being goofy, small kindnesses from everyone on the trip, singing musicals and having long discussions, hours spent in cars and on trains looking out over the living streets and villages, the faces of everyone there, the spices, smells, colors, textures that become so normal, the open minds and tempers, the respect, the love that is almost tangible, the rainforest — and every single moment I remembered ‘I’m in India.’
                                                 — Juna Muller 


You can learn more about Oak Grove by visiting their website at www.oakgroveschool.com.  If you are inspired to lend support so that Oak Grove can continue to illuminate and shine in the way that Krishnamurti intended, click here.

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Annual May Gathering
The dates for the May Gathering have been changed to:
May 10th and 11th, 2008
Ojai, California

Facing A World In Crisis
Speaker: David Skitt

SAVE THE DATES: This event is free for the public and takes place on the campus of Oak Grove School. Registration is not required. More information will be posted soon. The event comprises speakers, panel discussions, video and audio selections of Krishnamurti. Spend an early summer weekend with us and meet others who are interested in the teachings.

University Student Summer Study Program
June 25th through July 9th, 2008
Ojai, California
For more information, click here. 

Teacher’s Academy
June 30th through July 19th, 2008
Swanwick, British Columbia, Canada
Open to educators from around the world.  For more information, click here.

Adult Summer Dialogue Intensive
July 13th through 19th, 2008
Ojai, California
For more information, click here.

University Student Summer Study Program
July 24th through August 7th, 2008
Swanwick, British Columbia, Canada
For more information, click here.

Teacher’s Academy
July 28th through August 15th, 2008
Ojai, California
Open to educators from around the world.  For more information, click here.

Adult Summer Dialogue Intensive
August 10th through August 16th, 2008
Swannick, British Columbia, Canada
For more information, click here.

Santa Sabina Dialogue Retreat
August 22nd to 24th, 2008

SAVE THE DATES for this unique opportunity to spend a peaceful weekend in the beautiful Santa Sabina Retreat, near San Francisco. As with other Dialogue Weekends, a specific topic initiates the dialogue process, which is augmented by video and/or audio of Krishnamurti.
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Until next time,

P.S.  Don’t forget you can subscribe to the Daily Quote service by going to http://www.jkrishnamurti.org/.  And you can download excerpts of talks and videos there too.  And if you are inspired to help us close the gap on our funding, your donation will make a difference.  Click here.

To contact Troy Sumrall, call 805-646-2726, x. 30, or email him at mailto://troy@kfa.org.


Krishnamurti Foundation of America
P.O. Box 1560, Ojai, CA 93024  Ph 805-646-2726 Email: kfa@kfa.org  Web: http://www.kfa.org/