Why include insights from Krishnamurti in a resource for child and parent development? The simple answer is: “The better we know ourselves the more appropriate our model will be for children, who are, after all, the future of humanity.” What makes Touch the Future unique is its longstanding position that the entire spectrum of a child’s development is ‘model dependent’ and we are that model. Every act we call parenting is a form of adult development as we nurture and encourage optimum child development. The journey we call parenting is one of becoming a whole, mature wise adult with love, deep empathy and compassion leading the way. But what is the map or compass that leads our way?
The field of psychology deals with the various beliefs we hold about who we are. The related fields that focus on child development deal with how each new human being adapts to the environment. Most spiritual and religious traditions offer a set of cultural beliefs about good and bad behavior based on an idealized supreme identity or creative field of indigence. Krishnamurti’s insights dig deeper into the very nature and structures of thought, how we are conditioned by beliefs, traditions and often blinded by the images we have about ourselves others. True intelligence is a living, moving field of perception-action that is not based on thought, time or cultural conditioning with its beliefs. Krishnamurti challenges our often false assumptions and redirects our attention to this living field of wholeness with its radically different basis for our behavior and relationships with our children and every living thing.
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The Mind of J. Krishnamurti, a 60 minute film by Michael Mendizza, is perhaps the best introduction to the man, his time and insights. It includes an extensive biography, important vignettes of Krishnamurti speaking around the world and observations by those who knew him well. The entire film is first person, meaning there is little or no scripted narration. You will hear observations and personal insights from Krishnamurti himself and well as his biographer Mary Luytens.
The topic of violence and its many categories, ranging from schoolyard bullying to domestic violence to apocalyptic variations of war: could I do that, would I do that? Is there something deep within the psyche that’s normally quiet or repressed but, at any given moment, can come flaming out as a lynching, a spanking. Is violence only physical, or is it also deeply psychological? Does violence have a particularly national flavor, or is it universal? As Americans, we are sadly familiar with our own heritage: the treatment of Native Americans, of slaves, of internment camps, Vietnam. Other countries have their own histories—Germany, Japan, England, Russia, China—we all have something to answer for. We look outside of ourselves to see violence in others—those who are different, not like us—they are the violent ones. Is it the self, ourselves, that is the cause of violence? Krishnamurti, on the violent self.
Wherever humanity has lived, from whatever race or culture, there has been an over-arching sense of the other. From time beyond knowing there have been intimations of something vast and profound, something greater than the individual. That sense of the immeasurable has taken many forms through dance, through art, and the spoken or written word of the world’s great religions. Expressions of awe and adoration have created an artistic and spiritual heritage which has rooted in every corner of the globe. A deep imprint has been stamped on the human mind. However great this cultural legacy may be, have these ancient myths and ongoing traditions prevented us from looking beyond the boundaries of our own preconceptions? Is there something beyond the books, the paintings and sculpture? Is there something beyond the scope of thought? Krishnamurti on the sacred.
Over his lifetime, one of the great themes that Krishnamurti addressed was that of freedom. Touching upon it again and again, linking it with authority. He spoke of both freedom and authority in a less obvious psychological sense rather than socially or politically. As far back as 1929 he said that his purpose was to set humanity unconditionally free. A phrase that he used in that regard was to be a light to yourself. Not to lean on the insights and truths of others, no matter how profound the teaching, no matter how great the teacher. Our myths and traditions are yesterday’s verities. He asks that we look afresh and anew, from moment to moment. Why, he asked, do we so readily accept religious or psychological authority, but resist political or social restraints? Krishnamurti, on freedom and authority.
“Unless I fundamentally change, the future will be what I am now.” The noted author, educator and philosopher, J. Krishnamurti, questioned if it is possible to move out of the shadow of myth and tradition, into the light of a different way of living. Throughout his life, he suggested that to understand the present we must remove the blinders of old patterns of thinking. We must be willing to look, listen, and change. We must move beyond the past. Move beyond myth and tradition. This implies radical change in our lives. Krishnamurti suggested that lasting change must take place now, in the immediate present. He challenged the idea that outward changes in society, in political or religion systems, could transform humanity. Krishnamurti on change.
The topic of meditation has gained great currency in the Western world, while in the East, it has long been a staple of life. We have all seen paintings and statues of the Buddha and bodhisattvas in deep meditation. There are countless systems, techniques, and methods practiced around the world. Krishnamurti’s approach starts with freedom, not with the burdens of yesterday. He looks beyond the myths and traditions which would tell us how. “All systems which are based what others have experienced,” he says, “only bind us more closely to the old, to the past.” In beginning with ‘I don’t know’ we are free to step into the beauty of the unknown. Krishnamurti on Meditation.
Krishnamurti addresses the question of relationship. What is our part in this most profound interaction with another? In looking deeply, can we see ourselves and our actions clearly? Alone in your room you may be perfect. But things become more complex once a spouse, friend, child, fellow citizens and world neighbors enter that space. In 1985, Krishnamurti said “As you observe in a mirror your face you observe your reactions without any distortion,” and that can only be done in a relationship with another. Relationship then becomes the mirror in which you can see yourself exactly as you are. Looking in the mirror of relationship.
When we think of religion or a religious mind we think of a system, a structure hallowed by time and ancient mysteries, a sense of awe, a power greater than ourselves, and also fear at this overwhelming majesty. Devotion wells up. The rules of organized religions—the dogmas, creeds, and commandments—have been sanctified over the centuries. Should these rules be ignored, dire consequences are said to occur, from hellfire and the torments of the damned to bad karma and reappearance in another life in a lowly, not to say subhuman, form. Do we still need these threats of a boogeyman? Are the myths and traditions of the past enriching us, or have they become sterile shells? The word religion comes from the Latin religare meaning: to bind together, or bind back. Is a mind that is bound to the past truly religious? Krishnamurti, on the religious mind.
What does it mean to be aware, to be fully, deeply alive from moment to moment. Most of us have a distinctive awareness of our likes and dislikes, there is a sharp division. But is it possible to just be aware? To leave like and dislike behind and simply see things as they are? Those times in which awareness is far beyond the focus of concentration, Krishnamurti calls choiceless awareness. As he has said, when you are very clear there is no need for choice. It is a subject he returned to again and again over the years. Krishnamurti on choiceless awareness.
What prevents radical change in our lives, the change that we inherently feel is necessary to bring about a new way of living? Why do we repeat the same patterns generation after generation? Krishnamurti points out that the psychological condition of the past, what we have been taught by our parents, peers, our education, our work and social environment, cam be iron bars that hold us. He questions our identification as members of a certain nationality, religion, or class. Can’t we move beyond the old learned responses of the past? Are we condemned forever to be prisoners of the past. Krishnamurti on conditioning.
Can we live together without conflict? Krishnamurti posed this question in many different ways. “Where there is division,” he said, “there must be conflict.” Yet we divide ourselves into nations, races, and religions. We call ourselves conservatives, liberals, lower class and upper class, as we split and divide into ever smaller groups and sub-groups, until we arrive, at last, at the reducible “I”, the final category: that which separates us from all others. We may realize intellectually the root of our conflicts, but that does not necessarily solve them. It is important to understand the way Krishnamurti approached these questions. Not from a fixed conclusion. Not from resolutions arrived at generations ago through discussion and argument, or even by the revelations of great teachers. But rather by probing, questioning, turning us back to ourselves, to look anew at the question of conflict. In this way, Krishnamurti moved beyond myth and tradition to a vital continuing process for living now. Krishnamurti on conflict.
Love is the subject we think we know all about. We’re experts. Poets write about it, it is the subject of most songs, films, and plays. It seems to be fundamental to our lives. Yet there is tension, jealously, and possessiveness. Is hate the dark twin of love? Or does love stand alone without an opposite. Another confusion is equating love only with sex, possession, and desire. As the song says, “Is that all there is?” Krishnamurti has called love ‘the flame without smoke’. Let us clear the smoke, and perhaps find the flame. Krishnamurti, on love.