Without a Center Reflections on the teachings of J. Krishnamurti
by Michael Mendizza
One of the most challenging, yet central themes evoked in Krishnamurti’s teaching is the phrase, ‘without a center’ or ‘there was no observer witnessing’. ‘Choiceless awareness’ is another. Implicit in all of the speaker’s observations are the borders thought creates in consciousness. At the very core of the teachings is a penetrating insight into the nature and structure of ‘self-centered’ thought and the images this activity generates in the mind.
From The Core of the Teachings - Krishnamurti 1980
Man has built in himself images as a fence of security - religious, political, personal. These manifest as symbols, ideas, beliefs. The burden of these images dominates man’s thinking, his relationships and his daily life. These images are the causes of our problems for they divide man from man. His perception of life is shaped by the concepts already established in his mind. The content of his consciousness is his entire existence. This content is common to all humanity...
When man becomes aware of the movement of his own consciousness he will see the division between the thinker and the thought, the observer and the observed, the experiencer and the experience. He will discover that this division is an illusion. Then only is there pure observation which is insight without any shadow of the past. This timeless insight brings about a deep radical mutation in the mind.
Theoretical physicist David Bohm put it this way:
I think the ultimate purpose of Krishnamurti’s work was stated very early in his life, which was to free humanity from the destructive conditioning around the self-centered thought which is really an enslavement to absurdity, to destruction, to unhappiness, sorrow. No other kind of freedom means anything unless we are free from that.
The problem with the self [image]: there is an assumption or concept which, if it were real, would be extremely important, would be the highest value of all things. Just think of the word ‘self’, its basic meaning is the quintessence, the essence of all essences and that would, of course, have supreme value.
At first sight one might wonder why self-centered thought is so bad. If the self were really there then perhaps it would be correct to center on the self because the self would be so important, but if the self is a kind of illusion, at least the self as we know it, then to center our thought on something illusory which is assumed to have supreme importance is going to disrupt the whole process and it will not only make thought about yourself wrong; it will make thought about everything wrong so that thought becomes a dangerous and destructive instrument all around.
In Krishnamurti’s words - PBS 1968
…Because you are serious, because you are intent, then you are aware of the whole process of the observer – which means that you are totally attentive, completely attentive. And in that attention there is no border created by the center. And when there is complete attention there is no observer. The observer comes into being only when in that look, there is inattention which is distraction.
We have put away the observer and therefore there is attention which may last a second; that is good enough. Don’t be greedy to have more. In that greed to have more you have already created the center, and then you are caught.
In that attention there is no seeking at all. And therefore there is no effort. The mind becomes extraordinary alert, active, silent. Such a mind is the religious mind. And such a mind has an activity totally different, at a different dimension which thought can never possibly reach.
[for a complete version, click here]
Audio / Video links
A two-day symposium with Joseph Chilton Pearce and Michael Mendizza, April 8 - 9: The Complete Works of Joseph Chilton Pearce
A two-day educational conference with Joseph Chilton Pearce, April 10-11: The Awakening of Intelligence through Education - Real Learning or More Conditioning?
In Ojai, California
Sponsored by The Krishnamurti Foundation, Touch the Future, The Association of Humanistic Psychology (AHP) and The Oak Grove School
28 CECs (14 for each two-day event)
The Complete Works of Joseph Chilton Pearce
April 8-9, 2010, A Two Day Symposium
· Crack in The Cosmic Egg
· Magical Child
· From Magical Child to Magical Teen: A Guide to Adolescent Development
· Spiritual Initiation and the Breakthrough of Consciousness: The Bond of Power
· Evolution's End: Claiming the Potential of Our Intelligence
· Magical Parent - Magical Child
· The Biology of Transcendence: A Blueprint of the Human Spirit
· Death of Religion and Rebirth of Spirit
· Plus his new unpublished manuscript...
It is rare for a small group of serious people to gather in a beautiful space and explore the ideas and observations Joseph Chilton Pearce has shared in his many publications. This is our goal: twenty to thirty people with Joe for two days. Selected quotes beginning with Crack In The Cosmic Egg through his latest unpublished manuscript will serve as our guide.
Dates: Thursday / Friday, April 8th - 9th
Location: The Pepper Tree Education Center, Ojai, California.
Cost: Including catered lunch - $225
Symposium space limited to 30
In advance of the symposium registered participants will receive a collection of quotes from Pearce's major works beginning with Crack In The Cosmic Egg through and including his latest's unpublished manuscript.
For information http://ttfuture.org/news/front
For registration http://ttfuture.org/store/jcp/symposium
Plus A Two Day Conference
The Awakening of Intelligence through Education: Real Learning or More Conditioning?
With Joseph Chilton Pearce and Michael Mendizza
Dates: Saturday / Sunday, April 10th & 11th
Location: The Oak Grove School, Ojai, California
Cost: $40/day or $80/both
For a complete conference schedule, plus accommodations at the Pepper Tree Retreat or other local B&B, motel, or hotels, visit http://ttfuture.org/news/front
For registration http://ttfuture.org/store/jcp/symposium
Contact Michael Mendizza at 805 746-4141
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Re-envisioning Education: 2010 Teaching Academy (August 1-14)
As a culture around Krishnamurti’s Teachings, educators have considered the nature of learning and the challenge of envisioning a school and classroom environment that isn’t determined by reward and punishment, evaluation and the authority of knowing. But we have generally segmented these educational considerations around the students’ experience. One underlying theme raised in the Teaching Academy was how the investigation of learning and the aims of education directly applies to teaching itself—and how educators themselves learn and explore the art, science and craft of teaching without recourse to prescribed methodologies of teaching. One of our morning readings of Krishnamurti reflects this theme (emphasis added):
Let us not think in terms of principles and ideals, but be concerned with things as they are; for it is the consideration of what is that awakens intelligence, and the intelligence of the educator is far more important than his knowledge of a new method of education. When one follows a method, even if it has been worked out by a thoughtful and intelligent person, the method becomes very important, and the children [and teachers] are important only as they fit into it. One measures and classifies the child [and teachers], and then proceeds to educate him according to some chart. This process of education may be convenient for the teacher [school boards and administrators], but neither the practice of a system nor the tyranny of opinion and learning can bring about an integrated human being.
A question that wove itself throughout the Academy as an aspect of “Re-envisioning Education”: How will teachers live, learn and work together, as a non-hierarchical culture in a school, not only with students but between themselves as inquiring colleagues, learning all the time?
Some additional points to consider:
• Learning is not a scarce resource.
• Learning is not measurable.
• Inquiry is not asking ‘Known Information Questions’
Although many educators and teachers who have come across K reject the conventional notion of a child as an empty vessel to be filled with knowledge by the teacher’s instruction, a major part of teaching still seems to involve the transfer of known information—even when framed as questions. What implications does this have for students’ and teachers’ inquiry and learning? Can teachers ask and sustain questions in the classroom that they themselves don’t know the answer to? Can teachers do this amongst each other with regard to teaching, learning, and the life and vision of a school as a whole?
• What does a learning environment look like that is not driven by a method, i.e., standardized testing, lecturing, student centered learning, project based learning, thematic integration, inter-disciplinary curriculum, etc.?
• If we accept that learning cannot be measured, what then is academic excellence?
• Can I, as a teacher, be asking questions all the time to which I do not know the answer?
Two upcoming teaching academies are planned - at Brockwood Park School, England (July 4-18, 2010) and at the Pepper Tree Retreat (KFA), Ojai, California (August 1-14, 2010). See the Teaching Academy website for more information and a video of the 2009 program in Ojai: Teaching Academy Workshops
Gopal, one of the facilitators of the Teaching Academy, recently wrote: I met Kabir in Delhi a few weeks ago and found it re-invigorating to engage in conversations about education and the Shibumi school.
As someone who has grown up in and witnessed the ups and downs of the various schools - it seems to me rare for a K school to maintain an uncompromising focus and conversation around its intent. New tinkerings and solutions bring new problems and the horizon of our vision and conversation moves inexorably toward the so called "practical" and "marketable" possibilities. I'm increasingly interested in ongoing re-envisionings of all aspects of school/education.
Here is a link to Shibumi (a school started by former students and teachers of the
Center for Learning - an alternative school outside Bangalore, India - and other educators):
They also wrote about 'What the School is Not':
The school is not a place where the child is being trained to fit into particular social strata. Nor is it a place where one can seek security through conformity to the aims and ambitions of society. It is not a place merely to help a slow learner or a child with learning or behavioural difficulties to adapt to the system. Nor is it for a gifted child to focus only on a particular talent at the expense of the whole human being.
The school is not only for academic achievement.
It is not a place with an array of choices. While a child’s particular interests will be nurtured, the most important qualities are sensitivity to, and co-operation with, others. In fact, there is no choice but to act with compassion and care.
The school is not a soft option. It poses the deepest challenges that humankind must face if it is to regenerate.
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Being Alive to Responsible Citizenship
Report from India by R.E. Mark Lee
For the first time a major world university hosted a non-academic conference on the education work of Oak Grove School founder J. Krishnamurti. Delhi University, with 190,000 students and 70 colleges, sponsored a symposium titled “Being Alive to Responsible Citizenship: J. Krishnamurti and the Challenge for Education” from February 4th to 6th on its campus in Old Delhi.
The conference was opened by Chief Guest Professor Samdhong Rinpoche, Prime Minister of the Tibetan People in Exile and Chairman of the Kashag. He was followed by the film, “The Mind of Krishnamurti” which I introduced and followed up co-facilitating a discussion afterwards with former Rishi Valley Principal Shailesh Shirali. For three days there were papers read, power point presentations, and dialogues on Krishnamurti education including reports on Oak Grove School, Brockwood Park, The School in Chennai, Rajghat Besant School, and Rishi Valley School.
On the day when the several Krishnamurti founded schools were featured I spoke on the history of Oak Grove, its unusual founding in 1975, and the essential arts of listening, looking, and learning which distinguish our school. I said in part, “Psychological security is a fundamental prerequisite for a school, allowing for care and respect for each other to flower. Krishnamurti told the parents how whales and dolphins raise their young in total security and went on to equate the awakening of intelligence with unequivocal security of the brain which is essential to learning. How did the practical and penetrating ten winters of Krishnamurti’s counsel reach the children? A palpable atmosphere was created on the campus of real physical and psychological security which supports open and free relationships between children and teachers, and which leads to serious inquiry, self-revealing investigation, with no question being off limits.”
The major implication out of this conference is that other universities world-wide will be more inclined to agree to and host similar academic and non-academic conferences on Krishnamurti because of this ground-breaking event at Delhi University. It was so successful there is talk of organizing a similar event in Beijing, China at Peking University in 2012. Links of the papers and extracts from the film of the conference will be posted on the KFA website in the near future.
(Click here for the event’s program.)
For more details, click here.
Pathashaala – a new KFI school
Pathashaala is being created on a large campus, about 80km from Chennai. It is envisaged as a residential wing of The School in Chennai fostering individual autonomy and encouraging intelligence and coexistence with nature. Both campuses will function together enriching and strengthening each other organically.
In the tranquil atmosphere with distant hills and fresh breezes the staff and students will learn an environmentally sustainable way of living. The campus is designed to use alternative energy – solar energy, windmills and biogas. It will be sensitive to the use and pollution of water and be committed to ecological sanitation. The campus will have only dry composting toilets for use by all residents. There is adequate vegetation with careful planted trees, herbs and grasses.
You can get more information here.
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Krishnamurti Library – one year at Pine Cottage
It was just about a year ago, in January 2009, that the Krishnamurti Library was moved from the Archives Building to the Pine Cottage, J. Krishnamurti’s former home in Ojai.
When Krishnamurti and his brother Nityananda visited America for the first time, in 1922, they came to reside in this small cottage amidst the orange groves in the east end of the Ojai Valley. It was to become Krishnamurti’s most long-lasting home on earth, and he returned here year after year from his world-wide travels. He spent the entire period of World War II in this peaceful locale.
In 1975, the east end property—which includes Pine Cottage, the Archives & KFA offices, and the ‘Arya Vihara’ building (now known as the Pepper Tree Retreat)— was returned to Krishnamurti and the Krishnamurti Foundation after litigation as to its ownership was settled. Subsequently, Mary Zimbalist, a close associate of Krishnamurti’s, commissioned the architect Charles Moore from Los Angeles to design a fairly large extension of the cottage so that it might serve not only as Krishnamurti’s and her home but also as a place for meetings, interviews, and gatherings. This construction was completed in 1978 and forms the larger part of what we still know as ‘Pine Cottage’.
After Krishnamurti’s passing, in 1986, Mrs. Zimbalist continued to live here until her death in June, 2008. According to Krishnamurti’s and her wishes, the house is to be used as library and study center, principally of Krishnamurti’s work. At the same time, he was quite emphatic that it not become a sanctuary, or a place of worship or rituals.
I feel a sense of joy and satisfaction that Krishnamurti’s work has a truly global appeal, which is documented by the fact that his talks and writings have been translated into the principal languages of humanity; and also by the circumstance that visitors from all over the world frequent the library. The majority of visitors, naturally, come from the United States, primarily from California. But there were also visitors from the following countries:
Canada, Mexico, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, El Salvador, Venezuela, Colombia, Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Guyana. U.K., Ireland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Switzerland, Austria, Italy, Greece, Spain, Poland, Ukraine, Russia, Czech Republic, Slovenia, Croatia. India, Burma, China and Taiwan, Vietnam, Israel, Armenia, Iran, South Korea, Japan, the Philippines, Indonesia. South Africa, Uganda, Eritrea, Kenya, Tanzania. Australia, New Zealand.
Most of these visitors came to find out about Krishnamurti and his work, and to explore the fundamental questions that he raises, and frequently commented on the extraordinary sense of peace and silence that they experienced in the Pine Cottage Library and the entire east end property.
It clearly is a very special place that deserves to be treated with care and respect.
Michael Krohnen, Librarian KFA
1098 McAndrew Road, Ojai, California
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Oak Grove School
Junior High Goes to Teton Science School in Jackson, WY
On February 15, at the bright and early time of 2:45 in the morning, the Oak Grove Junior High students in grades 7 and 8 set off for a week long adventure at Teton Science School in Jackson, Wyoming. In an environment of snow and freezing temperatures, students got to explore in depth an ecosystem far different from that of the Ojai Valley. With the guidance of Teton Science School’s program guides, JH students explored snow pack and avalanche safety, adaptations of animals during harsh winter conditions, signs of wildlife and the various plants and animals that are a part of the diverse Greater Yellowstone ecosystem. With the Grand Tetons overlooking the valley, students were mentally and physically challenged as each day they set off into the field on cross country skis and snowshoes. Overall, the trip was amazing. The students thoroughly enjoyed a change of pace and a change of scenery.
Oak Grove’s two-year looping camping program for Junior High offers wonderful opportunities for students to experience environments much different from their own. Students explore the beach each fall with the Secondary School, grades 7-12, and rotate their spring trip between one week in the Rocky Mountains in Jackson, WY and one week in the desert in Southern Utah.
Britnee Sweat, a seventh grade student said of the Wyoming trip: “I was so excited to go, with anxiety building about going to the Teton Science School and hearing about the things we would do, and it was awesome!”
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Oak Grove parents bring relief in Haiti
The KIRF volunteers saw street after street of leveled buildings, people living in make shift tents and miles of devastation in every direction. They saw long lines of women with meal tickets patiently waiting in the sun for a food allotment. They saw many children. They visited with an extended family of 14 made homeless by the earthquake and now had to share a single tent in one of the many small tent camps that were all over the city. The KIRF volunteers will distribute their van load of food staples tomorrow with their local Haitian contacts assistance. They will purchase more food, locally in Haiti, if possible, to distribute aid again.
They are also looking for a way for Haitian students to be able to connect with students here in Ventura. With increased mobile phone usage, text messaging and internet access, many things are possible now than were impossible only a few years ago.
We are blessed. Blessings to Haiti.
For more details and other OGS articles, click here.
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