We live in a society whose whole policy is to excite every nerve in the human body and keep it at the highest pitch of artificial tension, to strain every human desire to the limit and to create as many new desires and synthetic passions as possible, in order to cater to them with the products of our factories and printing presses and movie studios and all the rest.
And yet it is still just as naïve to suppose that members of the same human species, without having changed anything but their minds, should suddenly turn around and produce a perfect society, when they have never been able, in the past, to produce anything but imperfection and, at best, the barest shadow of justice.
I had at last become a true child of the modern world, completely tangled up in petty and useless concerns with myself, and almost incapable of even considering or understand anything that was really important to my own true interests.
What a strange thing! In filling myself, I had emptied myself. In grasping things, I had lost everything. In devouring pleasures and joys, I had found distress and anguish and fear.
— Thomas Merton – Several Quotes from “The Seven Storey Mountain
Only when we see ourselves in our true human context, as members of a race which is intended to be one organism and “one body,” will we begin to understand the positive importance not only of the successes but of the failures and accidents in our lives. My successes are not my own. The way to them was prepared by others. The fruit of my labours is not my own: for I am preparing the way for the achievements of another. Nor are my failures my own. They may spring from failure of another, but they are also compensated for by another’s achievement. Therefore the meaning of my life is not to be looked for merely in the sum total of my own achievements. It is seen only in the complete integration of my achievements and failures with the achievements and failures of my own generation, and society, and time.
— Thomas Merton – No Man is an Island
There is no essential difference between the old and the young, for both are slaves to their own desires and gratifications. Maturity is not a matter of age, it comes with understanding. The ardent spirit of inquiry is perhaps easier for the young, because those who are older have been battered about by life, conflicts have worn them out and death in different forms awaits them. This does not mean that they are incapable of purposive inquiry, but only that it is more difficult for them. Many adults are immature and rather childish, and this is a contributing cause of the confusion and misery in the world. It is the older people who are responsible for the prevailing economic and moral crisis; and one of our unfortunate weaknesses is that we want someone else to act for us and change the course of our lives. We wait for others to revolt and build anew, and we remain inactive until we are assured of the outcome. It is security and success that most of us are after; and a mind that is seeking security, that craves success, is not intelligent, and is therefore incapable of integrated action. There can be integrated action only if one is aware of one’s own conditioning, of one’s racial, national, political and religious prejudices; that is, only if one realizes that the ways of the self are ever separative. Life is a well of deep waters. One can come to it with small buckets and draw only a little water, or one can come with large vessels, drawing plentiful waters that will nourish and sustain. While one is young is the time to investigate, to experiment with everything. The school should help its young people to discover their vocations and responsibilities, and not merely cram their minds with facts and technical knowledge; it should be the soil in which they can grow without fear, happily and integrally.
— Jiddu Krishnamurti – Education and the Significance of Life – Chapter 2 – The Right Kind of Education
Let us for a moment, imaginatively at least, look over the world from a point of view which will reveal the inner workings and the outer workings of man, his creations and his battles; and if you can do that imaginatively for a moment, what do you see spread before you? You see man imprisoned by innumerable walls, walls of religion, of social, political and national limitations, walls created by his own ambitions, aspirations, fears, hopes, security, prejudices, hate and love. Within these barriers and prisons he is held, limited by the coloured maps of national boundaries, racial antagonisms, class struggles and cultural group distinctions. You see man throughout the world imprisoned, enclosed by the limitations, the walls of his own creation. Through these walls and through these enclosures he is trying to express what he feels and what he thinks, and within these he functions with joy and with sorrow. So you see man throughout the world as a prisoner, imprisoned within the walls of his own creation, within the walls of his own making; and through these enclosures, through these walls of environment, through the limitation of his ideas, ambitions and aspirations – through these he is trying to function, sometimes successfully, and sometimes with hideous struggle. And the man who succeeds in making himself comfortable in the prison we call successful, whereas the man who succumbs in the prison we call a failure. But both success and failure are within the walls of the prison.
— Jiddu Krishnamurti – Ojai 7th Public Talk 24th June, 1934
“Modern society demands that boys and girls should learn certain professions, and for that there must be efficiency in education. When your object is to produce, not intelligent, alert human beings, but efficient machines, obviously you must have a system. Such a system cannot produce whole, integrated individuals who understand the importance of life but only machines with certain responses; and that is why the present civilization is destroying itself.”
— Jiddu Krishnamurti – Pune, India – 5th Public Talk – 26th September, 1948
“Education is not merely to give you knowledge, but also to give you the capacity to look at the world objectively, to see what is happening – the wars, the destruction, the violence, the brutality. The function of education is to find out how to live differently, not merely to pass exams, to get a degree, become qualified in certain ways. It is to help you to face the world in a totally different, intelligent way, knowing you have to earn a livelihood, knowing all the responsibilities, the miseries of it all.”
— Jiddu Krishnamurti – Beginnings of Learning Part I Chapter 13 School Dialogue
Brockwood Park 17th June 1973