Krishnamurti (1895-1986) is widely regarded as one of the foremost spiritual teachers of the 20th Century .
Born on 11th May 1895 as the eighth child of a pious couple in the small town of Madanapalle in Andhra Pradesh, Krishnamurti was adopted at the age of 14 by Annie Besant, the President of the Theosophical Society, and was brought up and groomed to be the World Teacher.
In 1929, however, he renounced that role and dissolved The Order of the Star – a large world-wide organization that had been built up around him to fulfill that mission. This action was the culmination of the deep spiritual awakening undergone by him and his insight that religious organizations cannot lead human beings to truth.
“I do not want to belong to any organization of a spiritual kind, please understand this”From the Dissolution of the Order of the Star speach, 3 August 1929
But though he abolished the Order of the Star, he did not stop giving public talks. He travelled round the world till the age of 90, giving talks, writing, holding discussions.
He talked of the things that concern all of us in our everyday life; the problems of living in modern society, the individual’s search for security, and the need for human beings to free themselves from from their inner burdens of violence, fear and sorrow.
Freedom from organized spirituality
It makes sense that Krishnamurti would not want any spiritual organization, because his notion of freedom includes freedom from ideas and ideals, tradition and habit.
“I desire to free [human beings] from all cages, from all fears, and not to found religions, new sects, nor to establish new theories and new philosophies”From the Dissolution of the Order of the Star speach, 3 August 1929
To put it more precisely, he rejected organizations at the psychological or spiritual level, even if he acknowledged the benefits of organization at the practical level.
This distinction between the psychological and the practical is an important one in Krishnamurti’s teachings. As far as inner, psychological, spiritual life was concerned, he categorically rejected any form of organization.
“I would make use of an organization which would take me to London, for example … I would use a motor car or a steamship to travel, these are only physical mechanisms which have nothing whatever to do with spirituality”From the Dissolution of the Order of the Star speach, 3 August 1929
So we see that Krishnamurti’s notion of a spiritual life was one where the mind is free from any kind of organization, even the internalized kinds that manifest in ideas, habits, and traditions. But practical forms of organization, created for the sake of convenience, do not pose this problem.
The challenge of creating Krishnamurti education
Though he dissolved the spiritual organization of which he had been het head, Krishnamurti believed that those who saw the importance of becoming free from any kind of ideas and ideals, traditions and habits, would still work together
“But those who really desire to understand, who are looking to find that which is eternal, without beginning and without an end, will walk together with a greater intensity, will be a danger to everything that is unessential, to unrealities, to shadows”From the Dissolution of the Order of the Star speach, 3 August 1929
This challenge of working together without creating a system, an authority to follow, a belief or a tradition, is there for anyone wanting to create a form of education that is based on Krishnamurti’s teachings.
The key to founding educational practice in Krishnamurti’s work on education is for us to really understand that truth can only be experienced directly, without the interference of ideas or traditions or organizations.
“Because of that real understanding there will be true friendship. Because of that true friendship– which you do not seem to know–there will be real cooperation on the part of each one”From the Dissolution of the Order of the Star speach, 3 August 1929
In many ways education is a form of organization, with its time tables, roles and rules. Education also tends to have content that is taught and learned, all of which implies a degree of organization. Because of this, the challenge of basing education in true cooperation rather than ideas and ideals is a recurrent theme on this website.