You become insensitive if you get used to anything
Learning and sensitivity
2nd K School - Students Discussion, Rajghat
November 19, 1981
Krishnamurti: What shall we talk about?
Questioner: Sir, could we discuss sensitivity and what it means to be sensitive?
K: Are you happy here?
Audience: Yes, sir.
K: All of you really happy?
A: Yes, sir.
K: Good! Do your teachers beat you?
A: No, sir.
K: Good! Do they scold you?
A: Yes, sir.
K: Do they scold you?
K: So they beat you.
A: No, sir. (Laughter)
K: They don't physically beat you - right? - but they scold you, which is verbally beating you. Isn't it?
Q: Yes, sir.
K: Yes? So do you like that?
K: So how shall we stop it?
Q: By not doing wrong things.
K: By not doing what you are not supposed to do - is that it?
First of all, I would like, if I may, to congratulate you about your play last night, which was beautifully done. That arena - you know what arena is? - in the Roman times, ancient Roman times, they had lions released and they killed people there, or they fought. Where there is a space and all the people sitting round it, that space is called 'arena'. So you have got a beautiful arena, a beautiful setting, and I was enchanted by it, really, I was so delighted to see it. You understand what I am saying? And the mis en scene - I mustn't speak French - setting, the scenario, the dress, the grouping, of the groups in one corner and groups in the other corner, it was beautifully done. So may I congratulate you.
Q: Thank you.
K: Right. I hope you don't mind my congratulating you! (Laughter)
You see in a school of this kind we oughtn't to be unkind to each other, we oughtn't to scold. How shall we stop being scolded? How will the teachers stop scolding you? Because you don't do everything that should be done. Right? Quite naturally, you are quite young, full of play, and naturally you don't pay much attention to what the teacher is saying. But the poor teacher also has a difficulty - right? - because you are not paying attention so he gets irritated, and scolds you. So how shall we both of us stop it, you and the teacher stop scolding? You behaving properly, and the teacher with patience not to scold you. It is dreadful being scolded all the time. I think that is one of the reasons why we become insensitive. If I keep on scolding you, telling you how naughty you are, gradually you don't pay attention to me at all, you turn a deaf ear. You understand what I am saying? So can we stop scolding in this place? That all of us behave properly. Of course we are very young, and therefore we are rather mischievous, naughty, playful, not too attentive, so the teacher, the poor teacher has to say something harsh to you, and so you don't like it, it hurts you and that is one reason why we get insensitive. Do you realise, from when you are very young, like this, we get very easily hurt, don't we? Agreed? Do you get hurt?
K: Not physically, not bodily, but inside. Don't you get hurt?
A: Yes, sir.
K: Now if I scold you, or am rough with you, and say something harsh you get hurt. That is the beginning of being insensitive. You get that? Do you understand that? The moment you get hurt you are building a wall not to get hurt more. So that is the beginning of becoming gradually insensitive. Right?
And also if you have fear you also become insensitive. Aren't you all afraid of something? Yes? What are you afraid of? Tell me.
Q: Of darkness.
K: You are afraid of darkness - why? Talk to me, let's talk about it. Why?
Q: Because you don’t know what you might come up against in the dark.
K: Are you afraid of the dark outside your room, or inside your room?
K: So you are afraid of the dark outside. You don't know what you are coming up against - there are the bushes, the trees, somebody might be there, so you get nervous. Right? Nervous, getting a shock, that's not fear. Would you call that fear? I go out in the dark, I don't know where the steps are, so I am a little cautious - right? - go slowly, step by step and find out. But that is not fear, is it? You are protecting yourself against falling. Right? That's not fear. Discuss with me, talk to me about it. Would you call that fear? If you are afraid of darkness in the room - are you?
K: Oh, then you are perfectly all right. What are you afraid of? Your parents?
K: Yes? What does that mean?
K: Sometimes. Why? Tell me please. Apparently you are afraid of your parents - I am quite sure of it - because they beat you, scold you, tell you, don't do this, do that - right? Be like this, don't do that - keep on at you. Right? So the parents make you insensitive. Right? Do you see that? Do you see that? By telling you all the time, don't do this, do that, your hair is not right, you don't put on your dress properly, don't go - (laughs) so you gradually shrink, don't you? Is that right? So there again you become insensitive.
So we are finding out what makes you insensitive. First you get hurt, then at home you are scolded, or even perhaps the mother or the father slaps you, which is dreadful, and at school you are also scolded. Right? So gradually you build a wall round yourself, don't you? Do you know what building a wall around yourself means? Not physically, but inwardly you shrink, and so you become insensitive. Right? That's one part.
And what is sensitivity? What is it to be sensitive? I'll tell you. I'll tell you all these things, will you do all of what I say, I am not scolding you, will you do what I say? Discuss with me, if I am wrong, tell me I am wrong. If I am right, tell me. But if you sit silently I don't know whether you think I am telling something nonsensical, or something real. Right?
Do you hear that train?
K: That is, what, tell me, go on, tell me. When you hear that train crossing that bridge and whistling, are you aware of it? Or you have got so used to it?
A: We have got used to it.
K: So if you get used to anything you become insensitive. If you understand all this. You are used to - what? - puja at home. Right? Some of you at least, some parents indulge in this nonsense called puja. Right? Repeat, repeat, repeat, day after day. They don't know what it means, it is generally in Sanskrit or something or other, you repeat. So anything that is repetitive makes you insensitive. Have you understood this? Right? So find out if you do anything over and over again without thinking. You get what I am saying? Do you do anything without thinking about it?
Now wait a minute: how do you clean your teeth? (Laughs)
Q: With a brush.
K: Right. You clean your teeth with a brush, putting toothpaste on it and brushing, thinking about something else. Right? (Laughs) Right?
K: That is, look, listen. You brush your teeth looking out of the window, thinking about something else, you are not paying attention to what you are doing. Right? What you are doing becomes a habit - right? - without thinking. I wonder if you understand what I am saying.
A: Yes, sir.
K: So anything that you repeat without thinking makes you insensitive. Got it?
K: You comb your hair, (laughs) thinking about something else - right? - and you are not aware, watchful of what you are doing. Right? Will you pay attention to what you are doing? That is, when you comb your hair watch it, that you are combing your hair, watch how you comb your hair. I do this every morning. (Laughs) I am very, very watchful of what I am doing so that I don't fall into a habit. You understand? The moment I fall into a habit, routine, doing the thing over and over again, I become careless, indifferent, insensitive. You've got it?
Now do you see the flowers outside?
A: Yes, sir.
K: Do you?
K: No, don't say, 'yes', have you seen them, actually looked at them, or you look at them as you pass by? (Laughs) What do you do? Do you actually look at them?
K: (Laughs) Do you watch their colour, the shape of the flower, the smell of the flower?
K: Right. Or - this is rather difficult, will you follow me a little bit? - or you have smelt the flower so often that you smell it remembering that you have smelt it before. I wonder if you understand this.
Q: Yes, sir, we understand.
K: If I am your teacher - thank god, I am not! (Laughs) - if I am your teacher I see you every day. Right? Every day for a couple of hours I see you, I recognise you, I know how you are going to behave more or less because I have watched you: whether you study properly, whether you are looking out of the window, whether you are pulling somebody's hair - you follow? - I watch you. And as a teacher I almost know you. You understand? I know what you are going to say, I know what your reactions are, so I don't pay much attention. I know you. You understand? I have become insensitive to you. You understand what I am saying?
K: So as a teacher, can I look at you afresh? This is very difficult. You understand what I am saying? Can you look at me, if I am your teacher - just put it round the other way (laughs) - I come to your class, I don't know how I am dressed, whether I am clean, neat, fresh clothes, tidy, or I come sloppy. How do you look at me? If I am your teacher how do you regard me?
Q: With the past experience.
K: Yes, you look at me with your past experience. Right? Can you look at me as your teacher as if for the first time you are seeing me?
K: I look at you as though I have seen you dozens of times, (laughs) and you look at me as though you have seen me dozens of times. Right? So what happens? What is your relationship to me, and my relationship to you?
Q: We take each other for granted.
K: That's it. You take each other for granted. What does that mean?
Q: You more or less know what the reactions of the other person may be.
K: You take me for granted, and I take you for granted - what does that phrase mean, 'granted'? She used that phrase - we take each other for granted - what does that mean?
Q: We become mechanical to each other.
K: Is that what happens? Investigate, sir, think about it. Is that what happens? When I take you for granted, and you take me for granted, what does that mean?
Q: We are insensitive to each other.
K: No, don't use the word 'insensitive'. (Laughs) Sorry! I take for granted my mother is going to cook. Right? I take it for granted my parents are going to send me money. I take for granted the servant is going to make the bed. So what happens when I take people for granted?
Q: A certain carelessness arises.
K: That's it, a certain carelessness, indifference. Right? So when you take people for granted you become insensitive, don't you? I wonder if you understand all this. So let's find out.
What is your relationship with regard to the teacher, and what is the teacher's relationship to you? You know what relationship means, don't you? Do you? You are related to your parents - most unfortunate. You are related to your brother, to your mother. What is your relationship to the teacher and what is his relationship to you? Tell me. There are all the teachers there! (Laughs) What's your relationship to them?
Q: The concern between both.
K: You contaminate each other?
Q: No, we are concerned.
K: I prefer contamination! (Laughter) Tell me please. Concern for each other-is that what you are saying? Is that an actuality? Are you concerned about the teacher? Of course not! (Laughs) And is the teacher concerned about you?
Q: We tell them
K: Don't tell them, I want them to tell me. Is the teacher concerned about you? Don't be shy.
Q: We don’t know, sir.
K: What do you mean, you don't know? What is the teacher concerned about? That you study. Right? I am your mathematics teacher, I am concerned that you learn from the book, and from what I know about mathematics. Right? Is he concerned about anything else? Tell me, sirs.
Q: No, he is not concerned about anything else.
K: So as he is not concerned about you, except that you pass some beastly mathematics - right? - he doesn't say, 'How are you? Did you sleep well? Have you any troubles? Have you any problems? Is your health all right?' - you know, enquire. You understand what I am saying? That would be concern, wouldn't it? Right? Do you agree? And your concern then also is to say, 'I hope you have no problems, I hope you didn't quarrel with your wife, or you didn't beat her up' - all that is conversation between two people. You understand?
Now, another thing: you have eaten in that hall, haven't you? Every day, you have your meals in that big hall. Right? Yes, or no?
K: Good! Have you seen what the kitchen is like, where they cook?
A: Yes, sir.
K: What do you think of it? Don't look at her.
Q: It is better than other schools, but it needs more improvement. (Laughter)
K: You know, when you ask, as I have asked some of the ministers in the government, this country is very corrupt, they say, 'Yes, but so are the other countries'. (Laughter) So he is avoiding the question - you understand? When I ask him, 'It is very corrupt, this country', he says, 'Not so corrupt as Czechoslovakia or Indonesia'. That question is the same, isn't it? 'This is not as good as it should be but it is better than the other'. (Laughs) You understand? Now go this afternoon, before lunch, look at the kitchen, go inside and look at it. I have been there. It is dirty. Right? Right?
K: Filthy. The cooks are dirty, the floor is dirty, the walls are dirty, (laughs) all the post which they go through, they touch, they have all left their marks - right? - dirty. So what will you do? Now just a minute. You see dirt and you don't do anything. Right? Doesn't that make you insensitive? Right? So what will you do? Absolute silence! That means you see dirt, accept it and become insensitive to dirt and carry on. Right? So what I am going to do is to paint all that place white. Right? The floor, make it clean, cement it, level it - you know, so that it is always clean. Right? Now will you help?
A: Yes, sir.
K: No, paint the doors white, the walls white so that The kitchen is one of the most important places, where you have good, clean food.
Q: Sir, what about the cooks? (Laughter)
K: What about the cooks? What will you do with them?
Q: Dress them in white. (Laughter)
K: Absolutely, dress them in white. Or take them to the Ganga and dip them! (Laughter)
Q: Ganga is more polluted than them. (Laughter)
K: So if you demand cleanliness you will have it, but you don't care. You understand? If you, who are the majority here, ten to one probably, if you say, look, sirs, we must have that kitchen absolutely clean - go on strike! (Laughs) And you will see tomorrow that kitchen will be clean! Agree? Will you do it?
A: Yes. (Laughter)
K: You asked, how to be sensitive, here you are - don't accept anything that is dirty, for god's sake. And also to be sensitive, will you look after a tree, plant it, dig, manure, plant a tree and look after it? Will you?
Q: Sir, if it bears fruit, we’ll look after it.
K: Suppose if it doesn't bear fruit, will you also look after it? I have planted dozens and dozens of trees in California, dug three feet deep, three feet wide, collected good soil, leaf-mould and planted it. They are still surviving, they are orange trees. I have milked cows. Will you do all that - if the cows allow it! (Laughs)
So to become sensitive you have to watch very carefully that you don't fall into a habit. You have fallen into a habit with regard to that kitchen: you see it every day and it is dirty. Right? You have become insensitive to it. You see those poor people walking every day, carrying heavy loads, you have got used to it, so you become insensitive. So don't get used to anything. You understand? Suppose I am a bad teacher, I don't know how to teach, you put up with it, you don't go on strike. So you see. A professor from Oxford in England, a friend of mine, came to this country and went to several schools and colleges. He said to me at the end of it, he said 'My god, they don't know how to teach!' You understand? And you accept it.
Now I will show you something. Is it time for me to stop?
Q: It’s half past ten. There’s still time.
K: You are not bored?
A: No, sir.
K: Three cheers! (Laughs) You know what is mathematics?
K: Tell me what it is. You all study mathematics, don't you, unfortunately, or fortunately.
Q: Unfortunately! (Laughter)
K: Ah, of course. Do you know what mathematics is?
Q: The magic of numbers. (Laughter)
K: The magic of numbers. All right. Two plus two doesn't make five, it makes four. Right? What does that mean? Or three multiplied by eight equals twenty-four. What does that mean, all that: two by two, ten by three, twelve by four, what does that mean to you? Not just forty eight, thirty six, four, and so on. What does it mean to you? You are all learning mathematics, aren't you? Think about it, think, find out, don't let me tell you, find out. You have got brains, use them. I see you are not used to it. Doesn't it mean order? Two plus two is four, twelve multiplied by three is thirty six and so on. Doesn't it show you it is extraordinarily orderly? - right? - extraordinarily rhythmic, like a dance, a flow. Right? You agree? So mathematics means order. Right? Now there is not only order in the universe, that is, the sun rising, the sun setting at exactly the same time according to seasons. You follow? There is tremendous order in the universe. You have seen the Orion, the stars - doesn't anybody tell you about all this?
K: No? Good lord! It rises - I won't go into it.
So mathematics, the real, deep study of mathematics, is discovering order in the universe, in numbers, and also discovering if you have order in yourself. You understand? Or you are confused, you are contradictory, disorderly. Right? You see the relationship between mathematics and yourself - do you? - you see how difficult it is for them to think? - you learn from books, don't you? Why don't you learn looking at the birds, looking at the stars, learn, watch, see? Nobody encourages you, nobody tells you about it. What shall we do? Sir, you are all responsible for the school, what will you do? Because your minds merely looking at books, learning from books makes you second-hand. You understand, second-hand? Like going to a shop and buying second-hand things, you have all become second-hand, there is no firsthand. You don't say, 'Well sir, I looked at Orion, those stars, the Pleiades, it looks so beautiful' - you don't, you follow? So what shall we do? You see how insensitive we become to all this? I am not scolding you so don't go to sleep. (Laughs) I, as an occasional visitor here, and I say, for god's sake, what kind of school is this when you are merely learning from books? I will tell you. I went to school in England, I never passed one exam. You understand? Not one examination. So I was sent to various universities, I couldn't pass. (Laughs) Then they sent me to France, a place called the Sorbonne, where your Prime Minister has just been, and I know French, I knew French, and there too I couldn't pass. So Dr Besant - you have heard of Dr Besant? - who was looking after me, she had adopted me, she said, 'That's enough. You have been to all these schools, you never pass, so enough.' But you see, I watched, I watched the trees, the ants, the flies, the birds, I watched and listened to very, very famous people, like - you have heard of Bernard Shaw? I used to know him, we used to meet quite often, I listened to him, I listened to various scientists, painters, poets. And you learn, you absorb so much. But if you merely stick to books - you follow?
Q: Sir, when you look at a tree, don’t you look at it with the word ‘tree’ in your mind?
K: Yes. I am going to show you something. You know, I saw a report in one of the highly respected newspapers in England that - listen to this, listen to this - that when you sing to the tree it begins to move. You understand what I am saying? Do you understand what I am saying? That when you are friendly with the tree, when you sing to the tree, a particular tree, it begins to sway, the whole tree. Find out which tree in Rajghat, in this campus moves when you sing to it. Find out when you say something harsh it becomes very still. And when you talk to it very gently the leaves flutter, dance with you. Do you understand all this? Will you do it? You may sound cuckoo, (laughs) singing to a tree, but a tree is one of the most beautiful things on earth. I don't know if you have sat under it. Probably here during this season it is too cold to have your lessons outside. And also they have found scientifically that when you are milking a cow if there is music in the shed it gives more. I have told this to Upasaniji, he is going to do it, playing music to the cows. You see, learn from outside, not just from books.
Isn't that enough? Do you know what meditation is? Probably you don't. All you know about meditation is to repeat. Right?
K: No? What is meditation then? Tell me. You see meditation means to have a very quiet, still mind, not a chattering mind; to have a really quiet body, quiet mind so that your mind becomes very religious. All this nonsense that is going on in the name of religion is rubbish, but to have a very, very quiet body, to have a very quiet mind, and to keep your eyes quiet, still, so that your whole being is totally harmonious. And in that state other things, greater things, take place. That's real meditation. Not to say, I must be quiet, keep my body very quiet, force it, but naturally quiet. So shall we do it for a few minutes? Right. (Pause)
Right, sirs. I hope you all have a nice holiday.