The following is an incisive description of Brockwood Park School and its intent first published in the KFT Bulletin No. 38 in 1980. It was published again in Friedrich Grohe’s 1993/94 Newsletter to mark the 25th anniversary of the place. To the best of our knowledge it has not been published since.
Brockwood Park has been in existence for ten years, and extraordinary things have happened in that time. Since the large estate was first purchased with a lovely Georgian house, a residential cloisters of 31 individual rooms has been built, a fine Assembly room added and a school brought into being starting with two students in 1969 and growing to sixty students in 1980, with a dedicated and fully qualified residential staff.
Krishnamurti (left) with students at Brockwood outside the main house in 1972
We are frequently being asked ‘What has been accomplished?’ ‘What methods do you use?’, ‘What are the results?’, ‘How are you different from other schools?’, ‘How do you deal with specific problems?’, ‘What happens to the students when they leave the shelter of Brockwood Park?’ These are valid questions that can be very easily asked but which cannot be easily answered in terms of results, except superficially and academically. The school has its fair share of good ‘O’ and ‘A’ level results, a good percentage of students going on to university and so on. But this is not what primarily interests us.
We are interested in the possibilities of bringing into being a whole human being in the fullest sense of that description, and we can only say that there is something going on at Brockwood which is not measurable in ordinary terms; and this is evident to most people who stay here for any length of time. We feel that every student who has been here has come into contact with something that has been of profound and immense significance in their lives. This is not to speak mystically or hopefully, but to speak factually and honestly.
The reason for this is clear: it is that the main direction of Brockwood, as set out in the school Statement sent to all prospective students and their parents, is to explore in our daily living the implications of the immense work of Krishnamurti. Though his work covers the whole range of human experience, the main theme is to enquire whether it is possible for us to be free of our conditioning—the conditioning which each one of us carries from a long distant past and which includes the race memories, tradition, demands of society, of the family and one’s own personal acquisitions and aspirations. Students and staff come here more or less unconscious of these conditioning influences which so mar and warp our lives: but as we investigate our eyes open wider and our hearts are more sensitively aware of the need for inward freedom, as well as physical stability.
Krishnamurti at Brockwood with students in the sitting room in 1975
This is what we are exploring at Brockwood, finding out as we live each day whether this freedom is possible and whether it can be discovered each day. In exploration one starts from the known and feels out into the unknown. And what is the known? Here it is a group of people, students and staff, from widely varying backgrounds, from twenty different countries with different customs and experiences yet having in common the basic human problems, conflicts and confusions. But they also have, and this is crucial when they arrive at Brockwood, the expressed intention of taking part in this exploration. This exploration is to discover whether it is possible to live together in relationship happily, intelligently and in freedom.
Explorations that man has so far known—whether physical as in earlier times by discoverers of the so-called ‘new world’ or whether spiritual, as with religious mystics—involve hardships, sacrifices, dangers, so it is not surprising that in this particular exploration there are some who set out with firm intentions but find what they encounter too much for their not-strong-enough commitment, and who fall away. But there are some who though not clear, sustain and nourish the energy to go on probing. There is really only one gigantic obstacle to this exploration—the self. This self is made of the very conditioning we are examining, and we understand enough to know that to be free of conditioning is to be free of the self. That terrifies. For it would seem that without the self we are nothing, and it is this nothingness that is the real unknown.
How then is one to proceed with the work that has been undertaken in the school? First it is essential to have in the community one or two or a few who) if not themselves free from egotism, nevertheless see clearly the trap of selfcenteredness. By their degree of perception and abiding interest, they may throw a shaft of light to others—which quickens them to learn of the vital significance of relationship and of working together, of being of one mind.
But there is more to it than this. Out of the group, by the fact of living together in the spirit of enquiry, there comes something quite different, something new, a growing awareness of the wholeness of life which gives meaning to the common endeavour. This does not happen all at once; each school year starts with at least one third of the school being newcomers. So each new year the process of being together in this exploration of the self starts over again, and it is usually only towards the end of the third term of the year that the school begins to feel somewhat at one.
Krishnamurti at Brockwood in September 1982
But in the process of this exploration into ourselves, particularly in the early terms of the school year, problems are revealed. These problems arc similar year after year—the confusion of freedom with license and slackness; the strength of habit in the matter of food, smoking, drugs, sex, pleasure and authority. Each problem as it arises has to he met with great care and real affection, and the staff have an immense responsibility for they not only have to be aware that the student is caught in a trap, but they also have to see that they themselves are in a similar trap, and all the while be mindful that we are not a precious, isolated school community, but part of the world as a whole with a responsibility and a concern towards the whole.
In dealing with specific problems such as alcohol, drugs and sex, we have to meet each situation as it arises and, as a school community, work at it to resolve it. This is done by weekly staff meetings, weekly meetings of the whole school, by smaller, daily meetings of staff and students together (rotating groups which eventually include everyone in the school) and by ‘tutorials’ in which each staff’ member has particular care and concern for one or two students. At these meetings there is no problem which has not been gone into deeply and discussed at length. From time to time there may be a situation which seems unable to be met by the community as a whole, but, by as many of us as possible staying with the facts, an action eventually emerges. In addition to the discussion meetings there is a daily coming together of the whole school, first thing in the morning, where we do not proceed through discussion but through the sense of being together quietly in this endeavour to live with intelligence and affection. During these precious fifteen minutes thought is watched—and perhaps falls silent.