The Problem of Education
Chapter-10 : by Acharya Mahapragya
Jain Vishva Bharati
The Problem of Education
There must be a perfect balance in everyone’s life between pravritti and nivritti. Whenever this balance is disturbed, difficulties arise. Mere pravritti drives a man crazy. Resulting in excessive expenditure of energy, it turns out to be a bane instead of a boon. Likewise, mere nivritti also renders a man’s life useless. What is needed is a real balance between activity and inactivity, contemplation and non-contemplation, thinking and non-thinking, doubtfulness and non-doubtfulness, memory and forgetfulness, and language and silence.
The physical needs of man dictate that he study and master different subjects with a view to satisfying those needs. This has naturally led people to believe that knowing things, helpful in satisfying physical needs, is all that there is in education. Knowing something about one’s own self has yet not come to be recognized as an essential part of education. No lasting change has ever been brought about through preaching, for language and ideas have their own limitations. They can at best touch the surface of our being; they cannot affect us profoundly.
Tranquillity and steadiness of mind are the first step to progress and transformation. A precondition for the opening of the route to inner transformation is the development of a consciousness free from memory, imagination and thinking. Modern education concentrates all its attention on sharpening of our wit and intellect, ignoring the mind. Mere intelligence cannot achieve anything much, for all aberrations and evils originate in the mind. In order to get rid of them it is essential to educate or train the mind. But today’s education rules this out since it has no provision at any stage for training the mind. This is its major shortcoming. No student is ever made aware of his infinite inner potential. He never comes to realize the presence of an inner strength which far surpasses mere physical strength. In fact, the modern student is blissfully unaware of his vital life-force. Today’s education has nothing in it to train and rouse this life-force.
Enfeebling of the vital life-force gives rise to a myriad problems. Uncurbed indulgence and uncontrolled and indisciplined thoughts have made people literally crazy. Lust dissipates human energy, and wasteful expenditure of energy inevitably leads to restlessness, loss of sanity and mental confusion. The greater the waste of energy, the more the loss of peace of mind.
Similarly, violence has made man cruel and mad. Attachment to and accumulation of worldly goods are draining vital energy. It is conveniently forgotten that anything that disturbs the balance of mind also, to that extent, wastes the vital energy. Likewise, a propensity for extreme likes and dislikes also has the same effect. A sense of poise and balance is the sweet recipe for energizing the life-force.
The main aim of education should be to enable the learners to develop a mind which is balanced, restful and completely unruffled and still. Modem education turns out competent scientists, engineers, doctors and other specialists. However, their professional expertise does not rid them of the propensity for fighting, condemning and feeling jealous. Driven to despair, these people can even commit suicide. Mere sharpening of the intellect without inculcating the habit of having a balanced attitude and mind is at best a very limited form of education.
It is instructive to note that one of the great qualities of life – tolerance, which is a major source of strength, is possible only in a climate of Independence born of a successful encounter with hardships and sufferings.
Tolerance is best cultivated through the Science of Living, and never through the study of the various academic subjects.
Whatever be the content and extent of formal schooling, tolerance and mental poise can never result from them. The Science of Living, on the other hand, activates the inner potential of the learner and brings about an overall and balanced development of his personality. This science has been so far grossly neglected. Inevitably, therefore, the products of our educational system betray a complete lack of patience, tolerance and will-power and succumb to the slightest adversity in life.
Occult scientists have revealed the fact that man cannot develop a transparent vision, until he succeeds in converting special centres, within the body into an electromagnetic field. All this is possible through the practice of tolerance, equanimity, fasting and breath-control, since such practice makes the atoms of the body electromagnetic fields which are intrinsically transparent.
The Science of Living educates the mind, the speech and the body alike. Educating the body means developing competence to sit in the same posture for a prolonged period. Educating the speech means not having any propensity to speak even though there may be many compulsive Inner urges to do so. Similarly, educating mind means being free from unbridled memory, imagination and thinking.
In fact, what is being said is that there is a compulsive need for striking a balance between external knowledge and internal being. Both are real; both are necessary. To integrate them and to bring about their creative union is the Science of Living.
Modem education is object-oriented. It concentrates on the object – that which is to be known; it does not concentrate on the subject – the knower. Thus we know so much about the external world but very little about ourselves. It is like recognizing the image or the reflection and ignoring the real object. It is on this point that modem education can be faulted. It ignores the knower.
One of the most keenly felt needs today is for discipline. Whereas education remains confined to the reaches of the intellect, discipline comes from far beyond them. They represent, as it were, two opposite banks of the river. Every individual has two polarities, two river banks – those of intellection and discipline. Between these two flows the stream of life.
It surprises many to see the educated people resorting to anger, dishonesty, theft and oppression. In reality, there is nothing unnatural about it. Education has quickened the intellect which enables people to argue and to reason and these make him selfish and deceptive. Paradoxically, the tendency to serve one’s own needs even by practising deception on another, is a direct result of one-sided Intellectual development. Quite naturally, therefore, one finds intellectuals, scholars and judges falling a prey to the above evils, traders indulging in smuggling and adulteration and government employees accepting hush money and bribes. Within the framework of the social mores warranted by their education such aberrations are not treated as objectionable. The utilitarian principle (something akin to pragmatism) dictates its own logic.
Viewed dispassionately and scientifically, anger, distraction, erroneous decisions, cowardice and various complexes are not blame worthy in the context in which they arise. All those who remain glued to their side of intellection, unaware of the other side, viz. discipline, cannot but act the way they do.
It is no accident that countless men and women find themselves under severe emotional stress and mental tension despite all their riches and achievements. Education has failed them but even if educational authorities refuse to give them complete education, they have no cause for despair. As individuals they have a right to take independent decisions and to discriminate between things useful and baneful for them. Let everyone after completing formal education think that what he has gained is mere one percent. For getting the remaining 99% training in self-discipline through the cultivation of the Science of Living is necessary.
What good are education and scholarship if they are unaccompanied by the adornment which alone makes life meaningful and completely self-controlled ? Today many big politicians and scientists are engaged in practices that pose a serious threat to humanity, to its very survival. Never before has such madness been witnessed in history. The world has been brought to a point of crisis where it is only a mathematical line that divides life from death. There is a universal feeling of insecurity and fear, even madness. It should be absolutely clear that the only remedy for this pathological state lies in disciplining the self, in other words, in self-restraint.
In the scale of values self-discipline or self-restraint occupies the highest place. It is, however, impossible to achieve it without the practice of meditation. All meditational techniques and methods of spiritual development are in fact a means of achieving self-restraint.
It should be clearly understood by all that schools and colleges impart knowledge only of the external world, the world of matter and of physical objects. It is truncated knowledge. For making it whole one has to learn the nature and content of the world of consciousness, the psychic world.
Every student should devote about a year to the Science of Living for developing self-discipline, after finishing his or her formal education. We have no doubt that if such a plan could be implemented, society would be able to find a lasting and real cure for the maladies in the present-day education.