“Freedom from the desire for an answer is essential to the understanding of a problem” – JK
At present there are nine study centres: one in Hampshire, England; one in California, USA; and seven in India (Hyderabad, Uttarkashi, Varanasi, Andhra Pradesh, Pune, Bangalore, Chennai). See http://www.kfoundation.org/centres.html for more information.
THE STUDY CENTRE – A VISION FOR A NEW MIND
Extract from Sunanda Patwadhan’s book A Vision of the Sacred – My Personal Journey with Krishnamurti
…… Krishnaji felt that there was a tremendous urgency for creating study centres for adults in each one of the K places. He held that these religious places should become beacons of light in the years to come. He raised many issues. “How do they become truly religious places? How does a physical place become sacred space? What is the ambience that will hold the sacred?”
He spoke against regimentation in religious organizations, and he wanted these study centers to be different from the existing patterns of ashrams ….. He felt that the very word ashrama had traditional connotations, for it was too much a part of the Hindu consciousness, and would evoke a patterned response.
Krishnaji spoke at length about his vision for a study center (dictated to me by Krishnaji at Vasanta Vihar on January 26/27, 1984):
They [these centers] must last a thousand years, unpolluted, like a river that has the capacity to cleanse itself; which means no authority whatsoever for the inhabitants. And the teachings in themselves have the authority of the truth. It is a place for the flowering of goodness, where there is a communication and cooperation not based on work, an ideal, or personal authority. Cooperation implies not around some object or principle, belief, and so on, but a sharing of insights. As one comes to the place, each one in his work, working in the garden or doing something [else], may discover something as he is working. He communicates and has a dialogue with the other inhabitants, to be questioned and doubted in order to see the weight of the truth of his discovery. So there is a constant communication and not a solitary achievement, a solitary enlightenment or understanding. It is the responsibility of each one to bring about this sense—that if each one of us discovers something basic anew, it is not personal but it is for all people who are there to share.
It is not a community. The very word ‘community’ or ‘commune’ is an aggressive or separative movement [away] from the whole of humanity. But it does not mean that the whole humanity comes into this place. It is essentially a religious center according to what K has said about religion. It is a place where not only is one physically active but there is a sustained and continuous inward watching. So there is a movement of learning where each one becomes the teacher and the disciple. It is not a place for one’s own illumination or one’s own goal of fulfilment, artistically, religiously, or in any other way, but rather a place for sustaining and nourishing one another to flower in goodness.
This is not a place for romanticists or sentimentalists. This requires a good brain, which does not mean an intellectual but a brain that is objective, is fundamentally honest to itself, and has integrity in word and deed.
This place must be of great beauty, with trees, birds, and quiet, for beauty is truth and truth is goodness and love. The external beauty, external tranquillity, and silence may affect the inner tranquillity, but the environment must in no way influence the inner beauty. Beauty can only be when the self is not; the environment, which must have great wonder, must in no way be an absorbing factor like a child’s toy. Here, there are no toys but inner depths, substance, and integrity that is not put together by thought.
At the end of his life, K was deeply concerned with the nature of relationship between people who came together to explore what a religious mind was. What does it mean to lead a religious life? How does a sangha [spiritual fellowship] come about? Whenever people come together, live together in a study center, how do they move together in perception? He spoke to the members of the Foundation a great deal about it. He was passionately pointing out the need to love, share, and be a light unto oneself.
If we look at all that he has spoken and written about study centers, we get certain insights and guidelines, a certain direction in which to feel our way towards working it out.
First, a study center is not a community. There are no permanent inhabitants. When people live permanently in such a place, it generally becomes a community with its hierarchical, dependent nature of relationship and routines and ritualized way of meditation and living. This was totally against his vision. Here people come for a short stay, for a few weeks, and go back with a deep awakening to meet life anew.
One goes to a study center to study Krishnaji’s teaching; then one reflects on what has been read or listened to, in order to understand and observe the movement of motivations, desire, conflict within: in short, to observe the way the self operates.
Those who come to stay need to work out their day intelligently, in terms of leisure for reflection, meditation, and being in silence. It is also necessary to do some work, maybe in the garden, kitchen, or any place where help is required. Dialogues with others form an important aspect of communication and help to come upon insights. Dialogues, introspection, work, and meditation give a new orientation to life. Each one has to discover his or her needs and go deeper into realms hitherto unknown to oneself about one’s consciousness. There is no guru to guide, no hierarchy, no conformity, and no pattern of behavior. There is no group therapy or confessional. How does such a group shape itself? This is a question to live and experiment with. There are no tailored or ready-made answers. What is important to grasp is an urgency to have a creative and affectionate relationship between people who thus come together.
Such a place is aesthetically built, with a sense of beauty and a natural loveliness. Such places are sheltered from the marketplace of worldly life and are like oases. When a person comes to such a place, the moment he or she steps into it, the burdens, worries, problems, and fears that the person carries naturally stop, even though temporarily.
The Sahyadri Study Centre [in Pune, Maharashtra, India], with a room for study and meditation, was formally inaugurated on November 29, 1998. It is a unique and beautiful structure. There is an office, a cafeteria, and five cottages for visitors to live in. It is a place of great beauty, overlooking the undulating Sahyadri Mountains and the valley where the Bhima River flows and merges into a lake. As one enters the place, a feeling of a vast unlimited space, a profound silence, and a sense of sanctity strike one. Sunsets and sunrises are extraordinarily beautiful, and the mind naturally falls into a state of inner quietness.
A SENSE OF COMPLETION
As I look back, certain factors strike me as significant about the way the projects started, developed, and were completed. Pamaji had to face many difficulties single-handedly—hundreds of details during the construction, times of financial shortages, myriad other problems of coordination and management. At that time we thought of what Krishnaji had often told us: “Do the right thing, Sir. Money and support will come.” It happened that way. Some donors offered their generous support, and the KFI schools came up with timely loans at low interest. And above all, something from within oneself brought energy to help us to carry on the task. It was primarily, I feel, a deep conviction or one could call it faith in furthering Krishnaji’s work. One considers contributing towards the creation of such a school and study center to be a purifying and sacred task. This belief and feeling kept Pamaji going, despite his advanced years. We shared all the trials and the reward of completion together. There was a continual feeling within us that it was not our efforts or the group’s alone that made it all possible. We felt that the benediction of K’s memories and presence played a central role in this work.