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Letters to The Schools 2

1982

Letters to The Schools Volume 2 1st October 1982

The future for every human being, including the young and the old, appears to be bleak and frightening. Society itself has become dangerous and utterly immoral. When a young person faces the world he is concerned and rather frightened of what will happen to him in the course of his life. His parents send him to school and, if they have money, to university and they are concerned that he should settle down to a job, marriage, children and so on. The parents, it appears all over the world, have very little time for their own children. After a few years from birth the parents have lost them; they have very little relationship with their children. They worry about their own problems, ambitions and so on and the children are at the mercy of their educators, who themselves need education. They may be academically excellent and they too are concerned that their students should reach the highest grades (again academically), that the school should have the best reputation, but the educators have their own problems. Their salaries, except in a few countries, are rather low and socially they are not highly regarded.

So those who are being educated have rather a difficult time with their parents, their educators and their fellow students. Already the tide of struggle, of anxiety, fear and competition has set in. This is the world they have to face: a world that is overpopulated, under-nourished, a world of war, increasing terrorism, inefficient governments, corruption and the threat of poverty. This threat is less evident in affluent and fairly well-organized societies but it is felt in those parts of the world where there is tremendous poverty, overpopulation and the indifference of inefficient rulers. This is the world the young people have to face and naturally they are really frightened. They have an idea that they should be free, independent of routine, should not be dominated by their elders and they shy away from all authority. Freedom to them means to choose what they want to do, but they are confused, uncertain and want to be shown what they should do.

In the eastern world the family, the parents, play a strong part in their lives. The family unit is still there. Though its young may earn a livelihood in different parts of the world, the family is the centre of their lives. This is fast disappearing in the Western world. So the student is caught between his own desire for freedom to do what he wants and the society which demands conformity to its own necessities that one become an engineer, a scientist, a soldier, or a specialist of some kind. This is the world they have to face and become a part of in their education. It is a frightening world.

We all want security physically as well as emotionally and this is becoming more and more difficult and painful. So we of the older generation, if we at all care for our children, must ask what then is education? If the present education, as it is now universally, is to prepare them to live in perpetual striving, conflict and fear, we must ask what is the meaning of it all? Is life a movement, a flow of pain and anxiety with occasional flares of joy and happiness, and the shedding of unshed tears? Unfortunately we, the older generation, do not ask these questions and neither does the educator. So education, as it is now, is a process of facing a dreary, narrow and meaningless existence, but we want to give a meaning to life. Life has no meaning in itself, apparently, but we want to give it meaning and so invent gods, various forms of religion and other entertainments including nationalism and ways to kill each other to escape from our monotonous life. This is the life of the older generation and will be the life of the young.

Now we the parents and educators have to face this fact and not escape into theories, seek further forms of education and structure. If your minds are not clear about what we are facing, we shall inevitably, consciously or unconsciously, slip into the inaction of what to do about it. There are a thousand people who will tell us what to do: the specialists and the cranks. Before we understand the vast complexity of the problem we want to operate upon it. We are more concerned to act than to see the whole issue.

The real issue is the quality of our mind: not its knowledge but the depth of the mind that meets knowledge. Mind is infinite, is the nature of the universe which has its own order, has its own immense energy. It is everlastingly free. The brain, as it is now, is the slave of knowledge and so is limited, finite, fragmentary. When the brain frees itself from its conditioning, then the brain is infinite, then only there is no division between the mind and the brain. Education then is freedom from conditioning, from its vast accumulated knowledge as tradition. This does not deny the academic disciplines which have their own proper place in life.

Letters to The Schools 2

1982

Letters to The Schools Volume 2 1st October 1982

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