Time to Reflect

Ben is a mature student at Brockwood. Mature Students are young adults who come to Brockwood out of their own interest in order to study Krishnamurti’s teachings within the context of the School. Their contribution is to participate with staff and students in the life of the School and to contribute to the atmosphere of Brockwood with their own serious inquiry. They are junior colleagues of the staff and work 20 hours a week in return for free board and accommodation. Here follows Ben’s reflections on living at Brockwood:

Tempus Fugit –
Time Flies. Or does it flee? Flee from our efforts to capture it, to pin down a moment in memory, or hold on to a passing experience. Inevitably our efforts to grasp this ephemeral, fleeting and ever-elusive thing (surely not a thing at all, but a construct) are frustrated. And still we persist, like naughty children who just will not be told.

T.S. Eliot begins his Four Quartets:
“Time present & time past
Are both perhaps present in time future,
And time future contained in time past.”
Is that to say that what the future holds in store for us here, at Brockwood Park School, is already in some sense germinating now, in our present? And surely what we bring here, as volunteers from all over the world, impinges on what is happening (& how we experience) now?

You know what they say, “Time flies when you’re having fun.” Already two months have passed since we arrived and, in a snap of the fingers, it feels like twice as much time has already passed. We, the new batch of Mature Students, are conducting an experiment: how to live our lives as young adults. In order to explore this, we have taken a ‘year out’ from the various lives we were leading in our respective homes and plunged head-first into the depths of a K school. What we had in store for us we could only guess at, but what unites us is a serious appreciation of the value of Krishnamurti’s teachings and an equally serious intent to inquire into our own natures: what constitutes me; what am I clinging to; where am I blind to my own assumptions; where is there resistance to now, blocking my happiness and freedom?

These issues and much else besides, we explore together in twice-weekly dialogues, endeavouring to navigate the unmapped paths of direct communication, overgrown with misunderstanding and littered with language or cultural-barriers. (We are 13 adults, from 10 different countries, aged from our early twenties to early thirties.) But we also, I believe, touch upon these existential questions in unassuming places, too. In the small moments: when serving the food to the community; or when walking alone, in communion with the centuries old stately trees; or even just in passing by a new friend or acquaintance – the acknowledgement that we always live in relationship.

Time has gone so quickly – and life has been lived so intensely – that I don’t think I’ve yet reflected back on what has occurred or even allowed it to cohere within my memory. Eliot continues: “All time is unredeemable.” And lest it congeals, all I shall offer are a few snapshots of my experiences here – moments stolen in the fugue of time.

Sitting in the arbour of the Rose Garden, amid the lawn I’d just mown, reciting poetry (Eliot, of course) with my friend in preparation for a presentation… Noticing, as I pass through the sitting room, how the melody of the numerous foreign tongues seems to drift like music through the air (especially when accompanied by the tinkling of the grande piano)… The burning of my legs (from excessive sporting use), when my mind is supposed to be focused on the dialogue in hand… The morning jog to school – straight uphill (oh, how I love the South Downs knee-breakers!) – just as the sun is cresting a distant hill and illuminating the surrounding woodlands… Waving to the little kiddies from the neighbouring Forest School nursery, as I proudly ride my blue tractor (singing my tractor song)… Impromptu discos in the (tiny) shared kitchen of our house… Cruising to some, as yet unexplored, beach in a crammed car, belting out Beatles tunes… Being struck, yet again, at the plethora of talent among our students and their perplexing lack of teenage awkwardness or stroppiness (secretly – it is they, not us, who are the real mature students)… The synchronicity of the chance encounter with someone fascinating and learned in an area you were only recently wanting to look into… The daily dance with the recalcitrant hens, who insist on breaking out of their enclosure in a desperate bid for freedom (only to find that they do prefer it back with their poultry pals after all)…

Eliot concludes the Four Quartets with:
“What we call the beginning is often the end
And to make an end is to make a beginning.
The end is where we start from.”
Where these beginnings at Brockwood will end, and as for what is beginning and ending for each of us – perhaps only time will tell.

Benjamin Hammond, mature student from UK

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