Saturday, February 27, 2010

Kabir at Shibumi

On Thursday, Shabnam and Arati spent the morning at Shibumi. The day was a wonderful mix of things: singing, painting, drama, discussion. We've put up a lot of photographs and videos along with something Arati wrote, on the Shibumi blog.

Every single painting the children made was so vibrant and beautiful! We should organise more painting in school. There's less pressure of trying to make things look perfectly as they should: everything is just blotches of colour! :)

Thursday, February 25, 2010

To See the False as False

Speaking to parents who visit Shibumi, I find that in communication with their children, most are either dogmatic and insecure about what they believe in, or in an attempt to be open-minded, shy away from expressing anything that resembles absolute truth.

Truth can never be absolute -- it is not a statement, it is not the words used to express it. But truth is not personal either -- there no 'my truth' or 'your truth'.

Lacking clarity ourselves, we do not give our children the sense that there IS something beyond the multitude of views and positions which they will someday find themselves floundering in.

It is also assumed that at some point everyone finds their own set of views and opinions to navigate the world with. Then one flounders no more.

It is possible, however, to have nothing to hold on to, no opinion, view or belief, but to stand firm in this whirlpool, to navigate the world with the strength of clarity. And that strength is not rigid: it is pliable, tender, free.

When one is even somewhat in contact with the living, moving truth, there is a clarity that comes into being. In the light of that clarity, the false is very simply exposed. There need be no judgment, no putting-down, no ego involved. No 'other-ing', no superiority whatsoever! Do we find it possible to see something false, and not to accept it, but to deny it with complete compassion, with complete vulnerability?

It is so clear that when I am judgmental, it is merely a form of self-protection. Separating myself, subtly putting myself above another, finding ways to be invulnerable, to escape anticipated pain. Without a reaction and a shift to the opposite, which is complete acceptance and subjectivity, can one see what happens when one denies all judgment but continues to see the false as false?

Monday, February 22, 2010

Beginning projects

Someone asked Lori of Camp Creek blog:

“My problems — how do I explain brainstorming to them? When I ask what would you like to learn about ______ I mostly get a blank stare. … How do I get them moving in the right direction?”

The answer:

"With younger children, it really doesn't work to sit down and ask what they want to study -- unless they already have a few major projects under their belt.

Rather, you should begin observing their play, conversations, questions, etc., and documenting everything in your journal. Take copious notes and review them after you have documented several different segments of time. Look for patterns and possible project topics -- interests, questions, etc. This is a *much* more reliable way to identify possible project topics with very young children -- and even older children who have no experience with projects. (Children aren't always the best at identifying their own authentic interests .. especially if they haven't had any experience learning in this way.)

You don't need to explain brainstorming to them. You simply need to model being the type of learner you want them to be. Wonder out loud. Have ideas. Ask questions.

You'll find advice on here about NOT bringing home a ton of resources at once. It's overwhelming, as you have probably figured out. Instead, when you're at the library, pull a half dozen books and let your daughter pick out what she wants to get. Over time, she'll learn to ask the librarian for help finding books on her topic. Get her started on making her own decisions. (Even when you think they're wrong!)

Let things move s-l-o-w-l-y. Concentrate on just a few books. Read them multiple times. Let her pore over them herself. Set them out with drawing, painting, and collaging materials (on separate days! s-l-o-w-l-y). Hang up xeroxes and her drawings. Talk about everything.

Finally, remember that your children are very young -- but perfectly capable of doing deep project work. Simply take your time and allow them to very slowly begin to explore something that interests them -- and don't let yourself hurry on.

Remember that the most important thing for them to do at this age is learn the habits and attitudes of a successful learner. Don't get too hung up on making an impressive project, especially the first time. Simply start to experience all the parts of a successful project -- curiosity, exploring resources, posing questions, expressing ideas in multiple media, etc. etc. etc."

The Observer and the Observed

Questioner: I see the fact that my mind is fragmented as the observer and the observed. But I cannot see any way by which the two can come together.

Krishnamurti: The questioner says, "I see that my mind is fragmented: I see very clearly that there is a division. There is the observer and the observed, and there is conflict. But I can't see how the two can come together." Now we are going to share this question together.

How do you observe a tree? Just a tree. How do you observe it? Do you see it through an image. the image being your knowledge of a particular tree, that it is a mango tree or whatever it is?

Do you look at the tree with an image that you have about it, which is the knowledge that you have? Do you look at your neighbor or your wife or husband with the knowledge that you have, with the image that you have? You do, don't you? When you look at a communist, you have an idea, an image of what a communist is. Or you look at a Protestant with Catholic eyes or a Muslim with Hindu eyes. That is, you look through an image, right? So the image divides. If I am married and I have lived with my wife or a friend for twenty years, naturally I have built up an image about that person. Nagging, friendship, companionship, sex, pleasure, all that is involved, and that becomes the image through which I look. That is simple, isn't it? So the image divides.

Now take the observer and the observed. The observer is the image, is the knowledge of the past. And he looks with that image at the thing he is observing. Therefore there is a division. Now, can the mind be free of images? Of all images? Can the mind, which is in the habit of building images, be free of image-building? That is, can the machinery that builds the image come to an end? Now, what is that machinery? Please, we are sharing the problem together: I am not instructing you. We are asking each other what this image is and how this image is produced and what it is that sustains this image.

Now, the machinery that builds the image is inattention, right? You insult me or flatter me. When you insult me, I react, and that reaction builds the image. The reaction comes about when there is no attention, when I am not attending completely to your insult, when I don't pay complete attention. Therefore inattention, not having attention. breeds the image. When you call me an idiot, I react. That is, I am not fully attentive to what you are saying, and therefore the image is formed. But when I am completely attentive to what you are saying, there is no image-forming. When you flatter me and I listen completely, with complete attention, which is to attend without any choice, to be aware without any choice, then there is no image-forming at all. After all, image—forming is a way of not getting hurt. we won't go into that because that leads us somewhere else. So when somebody flatters or insults, give complete attention at that moment: then you will see there is no image. And having no image, there is no division between the observer and the observed.

From 'Inward Revolution' and 'The First Step is the Last Step'

Life has loveliness...

Life has loveliness to sell,
All beautiful and splendid things,
Blue waves whitened on a cliff,
Soaring fire that sways and sings,
And children's faces looking up
Holding wonder like a cup.

From 'Barter', Sara Teasdale

Sunday, February 14, 2010

He Who...

He who wants to do good knocks at the gate;

he who loves

finds the gate open.


Roly, Asleep

On her back, she is vulnerable
as a marshmallow on a stick --
stomach bare to the universe.
Her top lip falls heavy, exposing
play-tiger teeth.
She breathes out sleep-scent,
stirs out dog-scent,
paws thrown out like a child's
quivering as she dreams.

Getting out of the rain

"Maybe, one day, while I am delivering one of my talks in a tent or shelter, it will be raining outside and someone walking down the street, someone who has never heard of me, will walk into the tent to get out of the rain. Perhaps in such a situation of spontaneity that man will understand what I am saying" --Krishnamurti


Festering pain
Buzzing thoughts
Hiding, peeking
Smoothing, smothering
Then the question:
Comfort or truth?
Vulnerability or a wall?
There is no choice
and far less buzz.

'Living' - a long-ago drawing

Monday, February 8, 2010

Stray Birds

Stray birds of sumer come to my window

to sing and fly away.

And yellow leaves of autumn,

which have no songs,

flutter and fall there with a sigh



Sunday, February 7, 2010


Ever since I attended the 'Learning with Kabir' workshop, I have been wondering about faith. Usually the word 'faith' is associated with belief, passivity, rigidity. Clearly, Kabir wasn't speaking of that sort of faith. Although what was said about faith rang very true, there was something I hadn't completely understood then.

Today, suddenly, the word fell into place perfectly! Faith is what allows the deepening of enquiry. Faith is the strong, clear feeling that truth lies here… in the negation of the self, or the discovery of the true self of interdependence and impermanence -- whatever one terms it. Faith is what allows me, when I come across something that Krishnamurti or the Buddha or somebody else says that does not make perfect sense yet, to hold it in my mind rather than trying to evaluate it right away and perhaps discarding it.

Faith is in truth, in the Teachings, not so much in a particular person who appears enlightened. So faith in this sense is not passive: it brings about observation and awareness from moment to moment. There seems to be an element of memory in faith. Something pricks you and you suddenly jump up in attention -- is that prick memory or something quite different?

You can forever be debating this theory or that, wondering whether you really want to let go of this self that offers so much pleasure and security, postponing, living in confusion. Faith is commitment to truth, despite confusion and all other movements of the mind. It is diving in. When confusion arises, it is faith that causes you to step back to see the trappings of the self. Then you are no longer caught in the confusion.

I will tentatively say that the source of this faith does not seem important. Reading or listening to somebody, meeting someone whose life and presence shakes you up, your own mind or culture, something mysterious perhaps… faith seems to come about differently for different people.

For me, I know it is irreversible. I can see clearly truth of the Teachings: there is no doubt about it; and it is not merely an opinion I am holding on to.

It does seem important for faith not to be blind belief or the seeking of security, but perhaps even an initial faith that is not based on a clear sense of truth is a good thing. If one is drawn to the Teachings enough to cause actual exploration, perhaps that is all that matters?

Leisure in its activity

Leisure in its activity is work.
The stillness of the sea stirs in waves.


From 'William the Outlaw'

"Let's think of the things he could be," said William, "there's lots of 'em"

"A doctor or a lawyer or a clergyman," said Henry dreamily. "Let's make him a clergyman."

"No, he couldn't be any of those," said William irritably, "those are special sorts of people. They start
turnin' into those before they leave school. But he could be a gardener or a butler or---or a motor car driver---"