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Letters to The Schools 2

1983

Letters to The Schools Volume 2 15th February 1983

Intelligence is not the consequence of discipline. It is not a by-product of thought. Thought is the result of knowledge and ignorance. There can be no discipline without love. The discipline of thought, though it has certain values, leads to conformity. Conformity is the way of discipline as it is generally understood to imitate and follow a pattern. Discipline really means to learn, not to bow down to a standard; from childhood we are told to mould ourselves according to a religious or social structure, to control ourselves, to obey. Discipline is based on reward and punishment. Discipline is inherent in every subject: If you want to be a good golfer or tennis player, it demands that you pay attention to every stroke, to respond quickly and gracefully. The very game has its intrinsic natural order. This instructive order has gone out of our life, which has become chaotic, ruthless, competitive, seeking power with all its pleasures.

Discipline implies, does it not, learning the whole complex movement of life social, personal and beyond personal? Our life is fragmented and we try to understand each fragment or integrate the fragments. Recognizing all this, the mere imposition of discipline and certain concepts becomes rather meaningless, but without some form of control most of us go berserk. Certainly inhibitions hold us, compel us to follow tradition.

One realizes that there must be a certain order in our life and is it possible to have order without any form of compulsion, without any pressure and essentially without reward or punishment? The social order is chaotic; there is injustice, the rich and poor and so on. Every reformer tries to bring about social equality, and apparently not one of them has succeeded. Governments try to impose order by force, by law, by subtle propaganda. Though we may put a lid on all this, the pot is still boiling.

So we must approach the problem differently. We have tried in every sort of way to civilize, to tame man and this too has not been very successful. Every war indicates barbarism, whether it is a holy war or a political war. So we must come back to the question: can there be order that is not the result of contriving thought? Discipline means the art of learning. For most of us learning means storing up memory, reading a great many books, being able to quote from various authors, collecting words so as to write, speak or convey other people's ideas or one's own. It is to act efficiently as an engineer or a scientist, a musician or a good mechanic. One may excel in the knowledge of these things and thus make oneself more and more capable of having money, power and position. This is generally accepted as learning: to accumulate knowledge and to act from that; or, through action, to accumulate knowledge, which comes to the same. This has been our tradition, our custom, and so we are always living and learning in the field of the known. We are not suggesting there is something unknown but to have an insight into the activities of the known, its limitations, its dangers and its endless continuity. The story of man is this. We do not learn from wars: we repeat wars, and brutality and bestiality continue with their corruption.

Only if we actually see the limitation of knowledge that the more we pile up, the more barbarous we are becoming can we begin to enquire into what is order that is not imposed externally or self-imposed, for both imply conformity and so endless conflict. Conflict is disorder. The apprehension of all this is attention, not concentration, and attention is the essence of intelligence and love. This naturally brings the order which has no compulsion.

Now as educators, as parents which is the same is it not possible for us to convey this to our students and children? They may be too young to understand all that we have just read. We see the difficulties and these very difficulties will prevent us from grasping the greater issue. So I am not making this into a problem: I am just very much aware of what is chaos and what is order. These two have no relation to each other. One is not born out of the other. And I am not denying one or accepting the other. But the flowering seed of perception will bring right, correct action.

Letters to The Schools 2

1983

Letters to The Schools Volume 2 15th February 1983

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