For days the rain has been drumming heavily or dripping gently, as we complete the task of editing this twentieth issue of the Journal. The pavements and streets of Chennai are getting flooded, and the city is bracing itself for a continuing deluge. We hear that the tanks in the countryside, brimful with life-giving water, are beginning to breach. From across the country there have been reports of simmering social tensions, which now and then break out into violence. On the world stage, deadly terrorist attacks, continuing war zones and the plight of displaced refugees is the stuff of daily news. As inner fires and outer fires rage, the urgency of global agreements on mitigating the disastrous effects of climate change appear to recede to the back-burner. Nature takes its own course, and we are made aware of the deep divisions, growing intolerance, calculated violence and ongoing destruction of lands and lives. This is but a slice of our times!
In such a scenario, is it possible to evoke a redemptive flowering of goodness, or a quality of wholeness, in human nature? Perhaps it is in probing and transcending the deeper causes of these apparently disparate phenomena, that we may come upon reasons for hope. This makes Krishnamurti’s insights and exhortations, and his vision of education, even more compelling thirty years after his death.
Completing two decades now, the Journal has held within its covers articles that explore a wide range of human predicaments—both inner and outer—and their intimate connection with this educational vision. It has also carried a range of practice-based articles that bring to life the experiments and thought-processes of teachers who teach different subjects or address other curricular concerns in schools.
What makes this landmark issue of the Journal special?
We invited this time a number of people who have been deeply involved for decades in the schools founded by Krishnamurti, to share their understanding of ‘the teachings’ and their concerns as educators. The response has been overwhelming and you will find here several valuable contributions. There are broadly sketched accounts of the requirements of a school as a ‘religious place’ and of an education that is based in enquiry. There is an exploration of how values can be derived from the teachings and woven into the curriculum, even as teachers are invited to transcend the field of values and respond to the truths revealed in self-knowing. We read of a personal journey that is an exploration into education, provoking inward looking, new questions and a capacity to ‘rest in confusion’. An experiential account of what it means to teach the ‘teachings’, in teaching subjects, is presented. Then there are reflective expositions on the implications of working from the space of inner consciousness, the importance of beginning anew each day, the role of nature in teaching values and the demands of a ‘new’ culture that includes the religious spirit and the scientific mind. All of these pieces, in one way or the other, refer back to Krishnamurti, but highlight in distinctive ways a wide spectrum of concerns. Taken together, they cover a vast ground, and set the bar high for what schools and education are meant to be in our troubled times.
We also invited short individual reflections from teachers on three themes — attention, conflict and excellence. The response was heartening and you will find a set of pithy, well-written pieces that uncover different facets of these notions, each one in a manner unique to the author. These are organized into three small sub-sections that are interspersed among the longer articles in this volume. We hope you enjoy the taste of these brief exploratory writings that focus on a single theme, and make you think, often in concrete, experiential ways.
Apart from the above, the Journal features an article that explores the vexed questions around ‘personality development’ in schools. It also contains two solid classroom-based writings from teachers who are trying something new: researching issues of freedom and order in the classroom and learning about our conditioning.
And finally, there are two articles that strike a cautionary note. One of them asks, with analogies from playing a game of football, ‘Are not schools with deeper intent also subject to the inner compulsions of an individualistic worldly culture?’ The second piece, written on the margins of forest, tribal village and cityscape, is apocalyptic yet lyrical. It compares modern schooling to a forced labour camp (the infamous Soviet Gulag), and sees education in today’s world as complicit in eroding all sense of community, culture and nature among the young.
We are thus brought back to the question, ‘Is a flowering in goodness, a quality of wholeness, possible for human beings in today’s world?’ This is the question that Krishnamurti challenged the schools to engage with. Dear reader, we hope that you will find in many of the articles in this Journal possible grounds and reasons for hope.