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Letters to The Schools 1

1979

Letters to Schools Volume One 1st January, 1979

It appears that as we are concerned with education, there are two factors we must bear in mind at all times. One is diligence and the other is negligence. Most religions have talked about the activity of the mind, to be controlled, shaped by the will of God, or by some exterior agency; and devotion to some deity, made by the hand or by the mind, needs a certain quality of attention in which emotion, sentiment and romantic imagination are involved. This is the activity of the mind which is thought. The word diligence implies care, watchfulness, observation and a deep sense of freedom. Devotion to an object a person or a principle denies this freedom. Diligence is attention which brings about naturally infinite care, concern and the freshness of affection. All this demands great sensitivity. One is sensitive to one's own desires or psychological wounds, or one is sensitive to a particular person, watching his desires and responding quickly to his needs; but this kind of sensitivity is limited and can hardly be called sensitive. The quality of sensitivity of which we are talking comes about naturally when there is total responsibility which is love. Diligence has this quality.

Negligence is indifference, sloth; indifference towards the physical organism, towards the psychological state and indifference to others. In indifference there is callousness. In this stage the mind becomes sluggish, the activity of thought slows down, quickness of perception is denied and sensitivity is a thing that is incomprehensible. Most of us are sometimes diligent but most often negligent. They are not really opposites. If they were, diligence would still be negligence. Is diligence the outcome of negligence? If it is, it is still part of negligence and therefore not truly diligent. Most people are diligent in their own self-interest, whether that self-interest is identified with the family, with a particular group, sect, or nation. In this self-interest there is the seed of negligence although there is constant preoccupation with oneself. This preoccupation is limited and so it is negligence This preoccupation is energy held within a narrow boundary. Diligence is the freedom from self-occupation and brings an abundance of energy. When one understands the nature of negligence the other comes into being without any struggle. When this is fully understood - not just the verbal definitions of negligence and diligence - then the highest excellence in our thought, action, behaviour will manifest itself. But unfortunately we never demand of ourselves the highest quality of thought, action and behaviour. We hardly ever challenge ourselves and if we ever do, we have various excuses for not responding fully. This indicates does it not, an indolence of mind, the feeble activity of thought? The body can be lazy but never the mind with its quickness of thought and subtlety. Laziness of the body can easily be understood. This laziness may be because one is overworked or over-indulged, or has played games too hard. So the body requires rest which may be considered laziness though it is not. The watchful mind, being alert, sensitive, knows when the organism needs rest and care.

In our schools it is important to understand that the quality of energy which is diligence requires the right kind of food, the right kind of exercise,and enough sleep. Habit, routine, is the enemy of diligence - the habit of thought,of action, of conduct. Thought itself creates its own pattern and lives within it. When that pattern is challenged either it is disregarded or thought creates another pattern of security. This is the movement of thought - from one pattern to another, from one conclusion, one belief, to another. This is the very negligence of thought. The mind that is diligent has no habit; it has no pattern of response. It is endless movement, never coalescing into habit, never caught in conclusions. Movement has great depth and volume when it has no boundary brought about by the negligence of thought.

As we are now concerned with education, in what manner can the teacher convey this diligence with its sensitivity, with its abundant care in which laziness of the spirit has no place? Of course it is understood that the educator concerned with this question and sees the importance of diligence throughout the days of his life. If he is, then how will he set about cultivating this flower of diligence? Is he deeply concerned with the student? Does he really take the total responsibility for these young people who are in his charge? Or is he merely there to earn a livelihood, caught in the misery of having little? As we pointed out in previous letters, teaching is the highest capacity of man. You are there and you have the students before you. Is it that you are indifferent? Is it that your own personal troubles at home are wasting your energy?

To carry psychological problems from day to day is an utter waste of time and energy, indicating negligence. A diligent mind meets the problem as it arises, observes the nature of it and resolves it immediately. The carrying over of a psychological problem does not resolve the problem. It is a wastage of energy and the spirit. When you solve the problems as they arise, then you will find there are no problems at all.

So we must come back to the question: as an educator in these or any other schools, can you cultivate this diligence? It is only in this that the flowering of goodness comes into being. It is your total, irrevocable responsibility, and in it is this love which will naturally find a way of helping the student.

Letters to The Schools 1

1979

Letters to Schools Volume One 1st January, 1979

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