Will the naughty boy change through punishment or through love? – Krishnamurti

I love this. I’m such a feeler. I was with my therapist one day and he sort of did impressions of people who would be more thinkers vs. feelers and it was pretty funny… the thinkers obviously would focus on the tangible aspects of something. In this case we were talking about the benefits of digital clocks vs. analog. Blahblah.

Anyway, it was funny because he kind of gushed on and on about how analog clocks feel nice, and have this quality to them that’s less blocky than digital, etc. And it’s pretty much how i talk!

Ok. Sharing now Krishnamurti’s answer:

What do you think? Listen very carefully to the question; think it out, feel it out. Will a naughty boy change through punishment or through love? If he changes through punishment, which is a form of compulsion, is that change? You are a bigger person, you have authority as the teacher or the parent, and if you threaten him, frighten him, the poor chap may do as you say; but is that change? Is there change through any form of compulsion? Can there ever be change through legislation, through any form of fear?

And, when you ask if love will bring about a change in the naughty boy, what do you mean by that word ‘love’? If to love is to understand the boy – not to change him, but to understand the causes that are producing naughtiness – then that very understanding will bring about in him the cessation of naughtiness. If I want to change the boy so that he will stop being naughty, my very desire to change him is a form of compulsion, is it not? But if I begin to understand why he is naughty, if I can discover and eradicate the causes that are producing naughtiness in him – it may be wrong food, a lack of sleep, want of affection, the fact that he is being teased by another boy, and so on – then the boy will not be naughty. But if my desire is merely to change the boy, which is wanting him to fit into a particular pattern, then I cannot understand him.

You see, this brings up the problem of what we mean by change. Even if the boy ceases to be naughty because of your love for him, which is a kind of influence, is that a real change? It may be love, but it is still a form of pressure on him to do or be something. And when you say a boy must change, what do you mean by that? Change from what to what? From what he is to what he should be? If he changes to what he should be, has he not merely modified what he was, and therefore it is no change at all?

To put it differently, if I am greedy and I become non-greedy because you and society and the sacred books all tell me that I must do so, have I changed, or am I merely calling greed by a different name? Whereas, if I am capable of investigating and understanding the whole problem of my greed, then I shall be free of it – which is entirely different from becoming non-greedy.


This reminds me somewhat of what Charles Eisenstein said in A More Beautiful World: “Let us be wary of measures that address only the most proximate cause of that symptom and leave the deeper causes untouched.”

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