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What is Holistic Education? | J. Krishnamurti


Jiddu Krishnamurti (1895-1986) is one of the most important holistic thinkers and philosophers of the 20th century. During his life, he stressed the importance of a holistic education, which is the only type of education that allows our children or students to be intelligent, free, and responsabile.

To better understand what Krishnamurti means by holistic education, I suggest watching the next video (Saanen 1984 – Question #3 from Question & Answer Meeting #2 ), in which Krishnamurti responds to the following answer: How can we educate our children to be intelligent, free and responsible human beings in today’s world?”.

First of all, he asks his audience:

“Are the parents intelligent and free? Are the teachers intelligent, free and responsible? Is the society and the educational system helping them to be free, responsible and intelligent?

Why are we being educated? We have to find out what we mean by the word education. Is it  merely to know the technique of living, acquiring a skill in a particular discipline? And education does it not mean educating the human being? Not acquiring mere techniques, a skill, but educating a human being to live with great art? That means not only technological knowledge but also the immense limitless field of the psyche, going beyond it, that is a holistic education.“ 

Then he adds:

“All this implies that the educator needs education. The parents need education, not just the children[…] education means a holistic approach to life. Cultivating the brain technologically and also cultivating the brain to be free of its own petty little self. That requires teachers who understand this, who are committed, who are responsible. And the parents must love their children.”

"The highest function of education is to bring about an integrated individual who is capable of dealing with life as a whole."


J. Krishnamurti [Education and the Significance]

This point is essential in order to better understand what holistic approach is when it comes to education. In order to become educators who are aware and responsible, while loving our children, we have to truly understand what it means to live holistically. The first thing that must be done is to be aware of ourselves and the world we live in. Self-knowledge or “awareness of one’s total psychological process” was essential for Krishnamurti. Learn to observe ourselves, so we can understand how much our brains are being conditioned. Conditioned by knowledge, our own fears, anxieties, loneliness, despair etc. Holistic education always starts from our own self-education. That is to say that we educators, teachers, and parents, above all, need to learn to observe ourselves so we can see who our children are, thus helping them in their self-realization and personal growth.

If you want to know more about this topic, please visit the post “What is Required to Become a Holistic Educator?

Love, respect and affection

Krishnamurti finishes by saying: 

Education is something where there must be love, respect and affection. We as parents, human beings do not want to live a holistic, a complete life. We are fragmented therefore we accept that fragmentation but in that fragmentation there is no intelligence, there is no compassion, no freedom

The problem of fragmentation, in fact, is one of the most central themes in Krishnamurti’s work as well one of the most important problems in our society. Fragmentation within ourselves and outside in the world, in our relationships between people, countries and so on. A kind of education which concerns itself only with the intellect but ignores our heart, our true intelligence, will not help us to change and make the world a better place. 

The significance of life

So, what should be the purpose of education?

“To understand life is to understand ourselves, and that is both the beginning and the end of education. Education is not merely acquiring knowledge, gathering and correlating facts; it is to see the significance of life as a whole” (Education and the Significance of Life)

So a holistic approach to life means to see the significance of life as a whole, that is what Krishnamurti stated and believed firmly. To ability to see life as as whole requires intelligence, because: “The function of education is to create human beings who are integrated and therefore intelligentIntelligent is the capacity to perceive the essential, the what is; and to awaken this capacity, in oneself and in others, is education”  (Education and the Significance of Life)

Finally, for Krishnamurti love and intelligence should be closely connected as there must be love in our hearts to understand our responsibilities as educators. I would also add that love should be essential to understand the importance of a holistic approach to life.

Thanks for reading this article. I hope that it was helpful and provided you with something to think about.

If you enjoyed this article and would like to learn more about Krishnamurti’s approach to holistic education, send me a message through the contact page of the site or simply write a comment under this post. In addition, you can also contact me via DM or by leaving commenting in the various social networks.

Furthermore, to learn more about this wonderful author, I invite you to visit this site, where you will find a lot of information and points to think about.

Welcome to The Sakura Tree. I am so happy you’re here. ❤️ I am Ilaria, a holistic educator who loves children! As a life long learner, I am truly passionate about holistic education and Arts & Craft. Sharing my passions with you is my goal!

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