Think on These Things

An inquiry-based program for high school and college students, with the goal of creating a space
for authentic exploration of fundamental questions

OUR INTENT

Think on These Things is one of the outreach programs of the Krishnamurti Educational Center, aimed toward young adults in high schools and universities. The purpose of this program is to extend fundamental questions and to bring about the space necessary for a deeper self-inquiry and self-understanding. Think on These Things is discussion-based: We explore challenging questions and film our discussions so that others can participate (click here to watch videos). The questions we ask are meant to challenge the deeply held assumptions we have about ourselves and about our life. For example, “What would it take for me to not compare myself to anyone?” or, “Would it be possible to end psychological suffering in my life?”

Part of our shared humanness is our ability to observe. Yet, observation can become instantly clouded amidst our attempts to self-analyze, label and solve whichever internal problem we are experiencing. Think on These Things is a direct invitation for us to simply look and observe oneself and one another. When one is presented with a question they may not have considered before—a question that has the potential to radically challenge the very perspective from which they begin to think—a different kind of inquiry and learning is possible. Our intent is to ask questions that can bring about the space for this learning.

The issues explored within Think on These Things are widely relevant, regardless of age, background or education. As such, the program has been expanding.

We have visited students in local high schools and universities including UCLA, UC Davis, UC Santa Cruz and Golden West Community College, have held gatherings in Maine, Maryland and New York.

We welcome all and any support to help us reach as many classrooms as we can: If you know (or are) a professor who might be interested in or if you have any questions about the program do not hesitate to contact us.

VIDEOS

The Program

Date: June 21, 2014.
Filmed in Ojai, CA.

This video provides a brief overview of the Think on These Things Program of the Krishnamurti Foundation of America.

Can There be Happiness Without Pleasure?

Date: November 5, 2013.
Filmed in Ojai, CA.

Three young adults, between the ages of 19 and 34, were asked the question: Can there be happiness without pleasure? These are their answers.

Identity, Peace, and War

Date: September 19th, 2012.
Filmed in Huntington Beach, CA.

On September 19th, we drove to Huntington Beach to attend Golden West College’s International Peace Day celebration and to have a discussion with a group of students enrolled in courses examining peace as a global movement. Our conversation explored man’s propensity toward identification and war. We invited the people present to look at war as the external manifestation of an already present violence and conflict within ourselves, and suggested that if we inevitably identify ourselves with a larger group–a nation, a religion, a political ideology–war must then be inevitable too. We asked, “Where does this need to identify come from?”, and fundamentally, “Is peace possible, is any method toward peace going to lastingly work if we don’t see that the outer world in all its chaos and violence is a manifestation of our inner selves?”

Approaching Freedom

Date: May, 2012
Filmed in Ojai, CA.

This video was made for the Krishnamurti Foundation’s annual May Gathering. This year’s theme was “Approaching Freedom,” and this video features a collection of interviews with people all over Ojai responding to the question “What would it take for you to be completely psychologically free?”

What is Fear?

Date: May 2013

This video is a montage of images accompanying an excerpt of Krishnamurti’s interview with Alan Anderson (San Diego, 1970) on the subject of fear. This video was used as discussion material throughout the 2013 East Coast Tour.

Are We Wired to Compare?

Date: December 6th, 2011
Filmed in the University of California Los Angeles.

UCLA graduate students Darin (25) and David (25) reflect on why we have the seemingly natural instinct to compare. They examine whether there is a tendency that can be explained by our brain’s biological wiring. Is there value in the act of comparison? Is there something inherently negative about comparison? Do we learn when we compare?

On Listening

Date: July, 2011
Filmed in Ojai, CA.

Claire (24), Harmony (27), Keegan (26) and Journey (18) respond to the question “Is it possible to listen in an impartial way?”

SYLLABUS

This is a fully developed syllabus for an inquiry-based program for high school and college students, with the goal of creating a space for authentic exploration of fundamental questions. This syllabus is ultimately geared towards opening up new avenues of exploration within existing classroom structures, and provides materials and lesson plans that are intended to be integrated into the current curriculum and educational paradigm, while facilitating the space and opportunities for new possibilities to emerge in conversation and in the interrelationships between students and teachers.

The syllabus book contains a variety of suggestions, and helpful information for those interested in working it into their classrooms. The book contains numerous lesson plans, as well as information regarding the practical application of the lesson plans and discussions.

Publisher: Krishnamurti Educational Center
Authors: Willem Zwart, MA, MA (Ed); Jacob Sluijter, Amanda Lezra
Copyright ©2014 Krishnamurti Foundation of America
77 pp, paper

The Think on These Things program is based on J. Krishnamurti’s teachings

By engaging young adults, with the questions and topics he delved into throughout his life and work, we are able to bring out a depth of discussion and exploration that is often untouched in classroom settings.

Since the program’s inception three years ago, we have travelled to numerous high schools and universities throughout the country, bringing these fundamental life questions to students and young adults.

The core of the Think on These Things program has been distilled into a syllabus that is now available for educators to use in their own classrooms. This syllabus includes a detailed introduction that evaluates and analyzes the transformative potential found within this inquiry-based program, The body of the syllabus is comprised of 10 carefully assembled lesson plans designed to challenge and explore 10 different fundamental questions and topics such as success, fear, and violence.

This program gives students a chance to authentically express what is going on for them, in an altogether different way from what they are used to in their everyday lives. Students have the opportunity to explore topics that they often don’t have a chance to engage with close friends or family. They are able to take chances and discover new things about themselves and the world in a space free from fear and the expectations of formal schooling. In their daily lives, students are constantly thinking about conforming, or, being adolescents, reacting against the expectations of parents, friends, peer pressure, school, and teachers for them to conform. Here, they don’t have to perform and aren’t evaluated in any way. We are inviting them to be honest, authentic and creative within the space provided by this program—we hope that the space we create for them is experienced as deeply meaningful and transformative.

“The function of education is to create human beings who are integrated and therefore intelligent. We may take degrees and be mechanically efficient without being intelligent. Intelligence is not mere information; it is not derived from books, nor does it consist of clever self-defensive responses and aggressive assertions. One who has not studied may be more intelligent than the learned. We have made examinations and degrees the criterion of intelligence and have developed cunning minds that avoid vital human issues. Intelligence is the capacity to perceive the essential, the what is; and to awaken this capacity, in oneself and in others, is education.

Education should help us to discover lasting values so that we do not merely cling to formulas or repeat slogans; it should help us to break down our national and social barriers, instead of emphasizing them, for they breed antagonism between man and man. Unfortunately, the present system of education is making us subservient, mechanical and deeply thoughtless; though it awakens us intellectually, inwardly it leaves us incomplete, stultified and uncreative. Without an integrated understanding of life, our individual and collective problems will only deepen and extend. The purpose of education is not to produce mere scholars, technicians and job hunters, but integrated men and women who are free of fear; for only between such human beings can there be enduring peace.”

– J. Krishnamurti, Education and the Significance of Life, Chapter 1

All Content Copyright © Krishnamurti Foundation of America