The Krishnamurti Study Centres in India and abroad are based on the vision of J. Krishnamurti and the statements he made about his own teachings. During the early part of his life and work, Krishnamurti founded schools with the aim of bringing about a new kind of education. However, a few years before his death in 1986, he began talking to the trustees of the Foundations about the possibility of doing something beyond what had been done for the young in the schools. He felt that there were many people who, because of the distractions of occupations, family, or other factors in their lives, found it difficult to spare time to look into their own lives. He therefore wanted to set up centres where people could go in order to take a retreat from their daily routine of office and home. Set in places of great natural beauty and serenity, these centres would provide an environment conducive for studying and reflecting upon the existential questions and the insights into life found in his teachings – his talks, writings, dialogues, and so on, which are available in the form of books, video and audio recordings.
These Study Centres are totally different from a library; one goes to a library either for recreation or for acquiring knowledge or for doing research on a subject and to prepare a thesis. None of these is the focus of a Krishnamurti Study Centre. We go there to understand ourselves, with Krishnamurti’s books and video and audio recordings acting as a mirror enabling us to look at ourselves clearly. This means inquiring deeply into why our minds are caught in innumerable problems, fears, desires, and conflicts; looking critically at our ideas and beliefs; and coming into close contact with our thoughts and emotions. This is the primary and sole purpose of going to a Krishnamurti Study Centre and not the acquisition of knowledge even about Krishnamurti’s philosophy.
In other words, one goes to a Study Centre to read and examine what Krishnamurti called ‘the book of life’ or ‘the book of oneself’. In a public talk in 1980, Krishnamurti said: ‘The story of mankind is in you, the vast experiences, the deep-rooted fears, anxieties, sorrow, pleasure, and all the beliefs man has accumulated throughout the millennia. You are that book…. In order to bring about a radical change in our society and its structure, one must be able to read this book which is oneself’.
Also, a Study centre is not meant to create a cult or any form of worship around the personality of Krishnamurti. Its focus is on Krishnamurti’s teachings and not on the teacher himself, and that is what Krishnamurti meant when he asked people to forget the teacher and hold on to the teachings. This also implies that a Study Centre has no guru or instructor to teach or interpret Krishnamurti’s statements or to lay down a schedule of study. Nor does a Study Centre impart a system of meditation. It is a place where people study Krishnamurti’s teachings with only their own seriousness to guide them.
A study center is a place of retreat away from the pressures of daily living. However, it is different from a resort. A resort is a place for relaxation and amusement, whereas a retreat is meant to enable serious people to re-examine and take stock of their lives.
Krishnamurti stated repeatedly that learning about oneself is possible only in the mirror of relationship and not in isolation. Therefore dialogue as a means of knowing oneself becomes important. A dialogue is not a debate around on intellectual or philosophical theory; it is not a seminar on a particular theme. It springs from each participant’s awareness of his own existential problems, outer and inner. A willingness to share these problems and examine them in the light of Krishnamurti’s teachings and the quality of listening and inner silence that one brings to these meetings – these form the essential features of a dialogue.