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Letters to The Schools 1

1979

Letters to Schools Volume One 1st September, 1979

Why are we being educated? Perhaps you never ask this question, but if you do, what is your response to it? Many reasons are put forward for the necessity of being educated, arguments that are reasonable, quite necessary and mundane. The usual reply is to get a job, have a successful career, or to become skilful with your hands or with your mind. Great emphasis is laid upon the capacity of the mind to find itself a good, profitable career. If you are not intellectually bright then the skill of your hands becomes important. Education is necessary, it is said, to sustain society as it is, to conform to a pattern set by the so-called establishment, traditional or ultramodern. The educated mind has great capacity to gather information on almost any subject - art, science and so on. This informed mind is scholastic, professional, philosophical. Such erudition is greatly praised and honoured. This education,if you are studious,clever, swift in your learning, will assure you a bright future, the brightness of it depending on your social and environmental situation. If you are not so bright in this framework of education, you become a labourer, a factory worker or have to find a place at the bottom of this very complex society. This is generally the way of our education.

What is education? It is essentially the art of learning, not only from books, but from the whole movement of life. The printed word has become consumingly all-important. You are learning what other people think, their opinions, their values, their judgements and a variety of their innumerable experiences. The library is more important than the man who has the library. He himself is the library and he assumes that he is learning by constant reading. This accumulation of information, as in a computer, is considered an educated, sophisticated mind. Then there are those who do not read at all, who are rather contemptuous of the other and are absorbed in their own self-centred experiences and assertive opinions.

Recognising all this, what is the function of a holistic mind? We mean by the mind all the responses of the senses, the emotions - which are entirely different from love - and the intellectual capacity. We now give a fantastic importance to the intellect. We mean by the intellect the capacity to reason logically, sanely or without sanity, objectively or personally. It is the intellect with its movement of thought that brings about fragmentation of our human condition.It is the intellect that has divided the world linguistically, nationally,religiously - divided man from man. The intellect is the central factor of the degeneration of man throughout the world, for the intellect is only a part of the human condition and capacity. When the part is extolled, praised and given honours,when it assumes all-importance, then one's life which is relationship, action,conduct, becomes contradictory, hypocritical,then anxiety and guilt come into being.Intellect has its place, as in science, but man has used scientific knowledge not only for his benefit but to bring about instruments of war and pollution of the earth. The intellect can perceive its own activities which bring about degeneration but it is utterly incapable of putting an end to its own decline because essentially it is only a part.

As we said, education is the essence of learning. Learning about the nature of the intellect, its dominance, its activities, its vast capacities and its destructive power is education. To learn the nature of thought,which is the very movement of the intellect, not from a book but from the observation of the world about you - to learn what exactly is happening without theories, prejudices and values, is education. Books are important but what is far more important is to learn the book, the story of yourself, because you are all mankind. To read that book is the art of learning. It is all there; the institutions, their pressures, the religious impositions and doctrines, their cruelty, their faiths. The social structure of all societies is the relationship between human beings with their greed, ambitions, their violence, their pleasures, their anxieties. It is there if you know how to look.The look is not inward. The book is not out there or hidden in yourself. It is all around you: you are part of that book. The book tells you the story of the human being and it is to be read in your relationships, in your reactions, in your concepts and values. The book is the very centre of your being and the learning is to read that book with exquisite care. The book tells you the story of the past, how the past shapes your mind, your heart and your senses. The past shapes the present, modifying itself according to the challenge of the moment. And in this endless movement of time human beings are caught. This is the conditioning of man. This conditioning has been the endless burden of man, of you and your brother.

The philosophers, the theologians, the saints, have accepted this conditioning, have allowed the acceptance of it, making the best of it; or they have offered escapes into fantasies of mystical experiences, of gods and heavens. Education is the art of learning about this conditioning and the way out of it, the freedom from this burden. There is a way out which is not an escape, which does not accept things as they are.It is not the avoidance;of the conditioning, it is not the suppression of it. It is the dissolution of the conditioning.

When you read this or when you hear it, be aware of whether you are listening or reading with the verbal capacity of the intellect or with the care of attention? When there is this total attention there is no past but only the pure observation of what is actually going on.

Letters to The Schools 1

1979

Letters to Schools Volume One 1st September, 1979

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