We generally learn through study, through books, through experience, or through being instructed. Those are the usual ways of learning. We commit to memory what to do and what not to do, what to think and what not to think, how to feel, how to react. Through experience, through study, through analysis, through probing, through introspective examination, we store up knowledge as memory; and memory then responds to further challenges and demands, from which there is more and more learning. What is learned is committed to memory as knowledge, and that knowledge functions whenever there is a challenge, or whenever we have to do something.
Now I think there is a totally different way of learning, and I am going to talk a little bit about it; but to understand it, and to learn in this different way, you must be completely rid of authority; otherwise, you will merely be instructed, and you will repeat what you have heard. That is why it is very important to understand the nature of authority. Authority prevents learning -learning that is not the accumulation of knowledge as memory. Memory always responds in patterns; there is no freedom. A man who is burdened with knowledge, with instructions, who is weighted down by the things he has learned, is never free. He may be most extraordinarily erudite, but his accumulation of knowledge prevents him from being free, and therefore he is incapable of learning.
Learning Has No Past
Wisdom is something that has to be discovered by each one, and it is not the result of knowledge. Knowledge and wisdom do not go together. Wisdom comes when there is the maturity of self-knowing. Without knowing oneself, order is not possible, and therefore there is no virtue.
Now, learning about oneself, and accumulating knowledge about oneself, are two different things. A mind that is acquiring knowledge is never learning. What it is doing is this: It is gathering to itself information, experience as knowledge, and from the background of what it has gathered, it experiences, it learns; and therefore it is never really learning, but always knowing, acquiring.
Learning is always in the active present; it has no past. The moment you say to yourself, "I have learned," it has already become knowledge, and from the background of that knowledge you can accumulate, translate, but you cannot further learn. It is only a mind that is not acquiring, but always learning, it is only such a mind that can understand this whole entity that we call the "me," the self. I have to know myself, the structure, the nature, the significance of the total entity; but I can't do that burdened with my previous knowledge, with my previous experience, or with a mind that is conditioned, for then I am not learning, I am merely interpreting, translating, looking with an eye that is already clouded by the past.
(J. Krishnamurti, The Book of Life)
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