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6. Education

Earlier I said the reader can skip the chapter on yoga in view of its being theoretical, though it is the most important chapter of the book. This is a book on the Spirit, not confined to any religion. The Spirit is universal. Its action on life is yoga. Why then skip the chapter on it? I also said the reader can dwell on that chapter if he is inspired by the earlier ones. As far as possible, in that chapter, I have presented yoga in the language of daily life. Still yoga is abstruse and obscure for the lay mind. Sri Aurobindo calls upon us to look on life as yoga. To Him ‘All life is yoga'. My theme is Spiritual Opulence. My endeavour here is to shift Man from the life of Ignorance and Falsehood to a life of knowledge and Truth. There can be no compromise there. Once there in the field of higher consciousness, there are grades. At the top is the evolution of the Supramental Being. At the bottom is the householder. This book addresses itself to the householder. Therefore I have a chapter on applying Sri Aurobindo's Theory of Creation to life, especially business management.

Opulence is Man's achievement in productive life. USA is the richest nation in the world. She achieved this abundance by very hard, hazardous, physical work. Physical work is the indispensable basis of Prosperity but it is not all. In the measure that physical work is informed by vital energy and mental knowledge, it rises in quality. I argue that in India such a work can be raised to Spiritual inspiration. Europe and USA have done it by organising mental education. I would not concede they have organised it. They have followed an empirical path that is partial and sporadic. Suppose any nation sees the need or possibility of organising mental education, that nation will rise far higher than others, as the USA which has organised the practical work has gone ahead of Europe. This chapter is on such an organisation. Europe set about doing so in the 12th century, when the guidance available to them was religious inspiration. Oxford and Cambridge were started to train priests. In India, we can base it on Spirituality, the individual's inspiration from his own soul. The Theory of Social Evolution calls Education the yoga of the society. Here, I wish to explain what can be done in our schools, colleges, homes and individually. Education is a mental endowment. Life based on education means Mind presiding over the process of production and distribution.

In another chapter on India, I dwell on the possibilities of the Spirit in the national life. Here it is confined to the field of education. India is an ancient nation whose mental accomplishments ended in a vast literature unexcelled by the world till today. The climax was reached in poetry, as in the Ramayana and the Mahabharatha. Apart from them, there is a vast body of literature under 64 sastras, ethical treatises, and devotional outpourings. All of them are based on the Indian religion. Sri Aurobindo calls it Sanatana Dharma. Now the essence of them is there in the bodies of the Indians, by virtue of being Indians. It ridicules the segregations of caste, age, sex, etc. It is like the treasure of the ocean which honours no limits imposed by human self-importance. Ocean is ocean common to all territory, not confined or distinguished by the various names given to it by Man. It is not a Hindu religion, it is the religion of India, best described by the name Spirituality. Mother did not approve of the word religion at all, as it signifies a narrow delimitation. Religion is people following one man's spiritual illumination. Spirituality is everyone following his own spiritual enlightenment, as if he is going by Vivekananda's insight that each man should find his own religion.

Society has developed trade so that each individual producer as well as consumer can relate to it beneficially. Without trade there can be no prosperity. We would be primitive. Similarly, society has created transport, press, banking and many other organisations. Education is one of them. Education permits each child to avail of it. This education is organised on the basis that the society has something to teach its children. Srinivasa Ramanujam, Bernard Shaw, Tagore, and Einstein were rejected by this system of education. They were all geniuses who could not benefit by this system where a teacher teaches what is there in a text book. They were on their own. They discovered their education from their own inner spirit. Our system stifles the genius. Of course, a system cannot produce geniuses. We need a system which will not frown on original thinking or creative mental effort. Whether it will produce geniuses or not, it will not stifle the prodigy, the precocious, the genius. Such a system will lead all Individuals to explore the genius within them. Today the world produces a few geniuses in a century. Such a system will let the world produce as many every year. Imagine Newtons and Srinivasa Ramanujams by the dozen every year. In the year 1880, a Ph.D. was considered the accomplishment of a genius. That year USA produced one Ph.D. In 1980 USA awarded Ph.Ds to 36,000 students. Should we rearrange our education on spiritual lines, Srinivasa Ramanujams will be the rule, not the exception. Today it is inconceivable. Tomorrow it will become a reality. As the Indians carry light in their bodies, this is possible.

The Indian Mind

Sri Aurobindo says if the Indians consider a subject they will not stop till they reach the logical end or the origin of thought. It is known as analysis from the first principles. To exercise our mind - the human mind - we exercise our thought. Our mind is fed by our senses. They are the facts. Mind takes two or more facts and puts them together and tries to understand. In the measure those facts are detached from the sense impressions, the thought becomes reasonable. We see someone walking well dressed. Seeing it is 9.30 a.m. and knowing he is an employee of the Municipality, we put together the facts of our observation, what we know of him and the time, and we understand he is going to his office that opens at 10 a.m. This is the normal activity of mind. We call it reasoning. Science, as it is developed today, is called empirical. It is called experimental science. Our mind sees the fact. The fact is partial. By collecting the facts of our observation, classifying them, systematizing them, we have organised the subject called Science.

Beyond the human mind lies the mind of Silence - Higher Mind - of the Muni. The Rishi is one who sees visions. Visions are figures of light. That mind is called the Illumined Mind. Intuition needs no thought for understanding. Nor does it need Silence or Light. It gets the knowledge direct without any medium. It is the mind of the yogi. It is known as Intuitive Mind. The next level is that of the gods. They have knowledge itself, but this knowledge co-exists with Ignorance.

Srinivasa Ramanujam did not think. He meditated. Theorems of Geometry sailed into his mind. Once two English Professors of Mathematics came to see Ramanujam while he was in England. After asking them to wait, he went in to cook rice. They waited for a long time. Suspecting what had happened, they went into his kitchen to see. The pot of rice and water were overflowing. He was sitting before the oven with eyes shut. It is in such meditations new ideas appeared before his mind. Once Sri Aurobindo wanted tea. He never used to ask for anything. It was 3.40 p.m. On the wall He saw 3.42. Akasa lipi told Him that tea would come at 3.42. Our 64 Sastras were written by subtle vision, from the Higher Mind of the Muni who has taken to mounam, from the higher ranges of Mind. Einstein got his formula of the universe E=MC² from Intuition. Einstein said that he who had not had the emotion of Intuition could not be an original scientist. The function of the Overmind is to divide and subdivide things till they become the infinitesimal beyond which they cannot be divided. At that point, analysis becomes complete. Overmind is the plane from where Krishnavatar came. Rama came from the Higher mind.

From the First Principles

We know England is prosperous. What is the source of her prosperity? It is overseas trade. The trade had something to import, because people had greater purchasing power. The greater purchasing power was given to them by their wool trade. England was an exporter of wool. She could do so as she had a large surplus of wool. That surplus came from the excessive rainfall - 140" maximum - England alone enjoyed, while a country like Holland had 24" rainfall. Rainfall, democratic setup, and being an island gave her overseas trade which resulted in the British Empire. Winston Churchill said that to analyse from the first principles is anathema to the English mind. They come to know such facts when circumstances compel them to know. Analysing from first principles is the forte of our people.

Sri Aurobindo describes in The Life Divine how the old Indian physicists discovered the five elements. By their analysis they resolved the five elements into force. The origin of that force was identified as Existence, Sat. The ultimate origin was known as the Absolute Brahman from whom Existence emerged. Our Vedantic philosophy thus arrived at Sachchidananda as the origin of the world. Sri Aurobindo carried it further to the expression of that Sachchidananda in daily life, which I call Brahma Jananam. We see how much the knowledge of the human mind - Sri Aurobindo calls it Mind of Ignorance - has achieved in Western civilisation. Only about a hundred years ago science discovered that ultimately the world reduces into energy. This was already known to the Rishis of old. Even then they went further. The origin of that energy is Being - Sat Purusha - which evolved out of the Absolute Brahman. When we evolve a system of education, its basic inspiration will not be the Mind of Ignorance as in the West, but the Absolute Brahman. It is possible to develop such a system. The educationists of India must turn their faces away from the West and look inside themselves for the needed guidance.

It does not mean our students should memorise Vedas and the Upanishads as part of their curriculum. It does mean that the system of education must enable the students to open the higher ranges of their minds. What do we do presently? Except in the very best schools and colleges, we have borrowed the Western system in toto and allowed our pupils to memorise the answers to secure higher scores in the exam. We have taken upon ourselves an inferior system and subjected it to a superstitious method. I wish to enter into no argument. Our system is outmoded. It must be scrapped completely. One can say that if he has no governmental responsibilities, but it will not be practical. It will be an armchair argument.

  • The least one can do is to prevent memorisation and compel pupils to think. That can be done at once.
  • A practical scheme cannot be given here in all its details, but its principles can be spelt out here. If need be, a complete practical scheme can be drawn up.

Many good schools have given up exams at the primary level. Children enjoy greater freedom in all progressive schools in every way. But the schools of this description are a drop in the ocean. All the schools are under the government. To create a new scheme of education and popularize it with good schools is easier than moving the government machinery. What progressive schools do today, the government schools may do tomorrow. That tomorrow depends upon the nation's capacity to be awake. Historian Arnold J.Toynbee speaks of the creation of the intelligentsia and how in a period of 136 years it has consistently brought about revolutionary changes. By intelligentsia he means the creation of a cadre of youth to man the nation - replacing experience by education. The I.A.S. cadre is one such. A post attainable at the end of 25 or 30 years of service is given to the I.A.S. cadre after eighteen months training. The fact is those who come through the ranks and those who get recruited to the I.A.S. are of the same qualification with varying degrees of attainments. Schools can train students by the time they reach twenty or even earlier to acquire the essence of experience attained at forty or even sixty years of age, if the students are encouraged to think on their own. It is happening at a microscopic level. It can be organised to become a national system.

An auditor and his wife, a college teacher, decided to teach their only child, Nirupama, by the method of Glenn Doman from the age of six months. The child at the age of four could read the Readers' Digest fully. At the age of 15, she has the academic maturity of one who has taught at the university level for ten years. She speaks several languages, sings, writes poems and stories. Now she has brought out an excellent translation in English of Kalki's Parthiban Kanavu. She is not a prodigy or precocious. It is the training that made her what she is. She can teach courses in B.A. or even M.A. at the college. More than the training, the parents gave her freedom and waited for her to acquire self-discipline. What she has acquired can be given to all children if her parents reduce their personal method into a syllabus to be followed in a classroom. Children can be withdrawn from schools if they are bright so that they may learn on their own. In 1985 there were half a million children in the USA who had denied themselves the convenience of school education. Freedom is a spiritual principle.

Mass copying has rendered a college degree a farce. Employers go more by the latent talents than by the certificate. The country has taken to the professional courses in a big way. In spite of all the defects and corruption, it is a welcome development. But all these degree holders seek salaried employment. The urge to be an entrepreneur is only a silver lining. The prosperity of any nation is brought about by the adventure of the millions of entrepreneurs. In our country that self-reliance is lost. The recent boom witnessed mainly in the urban areas is attributed to the new-found self-confidence. The Chairman of Unilever who visited India took note of it. Self-confidence issues from the Self. The Mother says the light is there in the very bodies of the Indians which is absent in the Westerner. To create a SYSTEM so that the Spiritual light will emerge on the surface is desirable as well as possible. Before considering how far it is practicable in Indian conditions, let us consider what that system looks like and what the components are that would go to make it into a system. The many features of such a system are,

  1. The child must be led to think, not memorize.
  2. Examinations must either be abolished or used minimally.
  3. The child should not be beaten or threatened or coerced in any way.
  4. That a child at the age of seven learns on its own when it is encouraged in a free atmosphere better than a child at the age of twelve under the present system should be seen as a fact, not an argument.
  5. Parents must come forward to concede the fact that the children are their psychological extension.
  6. A teacher is more a hindrance than a help, even in the best of circumstances.
  7. The development of mind, in several aspects, directly depends upon the corresponding muscles in the body.
  8. Freedom widens the horizons of the child's mind from conditioning to a wideness not conceivable in the present society.
  9. Spirit shies away from the exercise of authority of any description.
  10. Only utter Truthfulness in the child will induce the Spirit to descend into the child's mind.
  11. Schools prepare children for physical survival. On the contrary, education must prepare pupils for a psychological adventure.

For India to be prosperous, she cannot be producing graduates who aspire for a salaried job and end up as clerks. McCaulay created that system to provide him with administrative manpower. Prosperity demands entrepreneurship, educated, informed self-confident entrepreneurship. Sri Aurobindo said, "All Life is Yoga", which means the spirit of life is doing yoga to raise itself to Divine Life. I said education is the yoga of the society. It means education is the instrument through which society will achieve its goal. The goal of the society is ultimately to attain to Divine Life. Prior to that, society needs to be free from strife, war, poverty, disease and finally ignorance. Present education will not lead to that goal, and has not led to that goal. Certain nations actively prepare for war through the school. The initiative is not with the government but the social elite. Our system of education must prepare the student at two levels,

  1. He must, on his own, be very highly productive - entrepreneurship.
  2. He must be able to rise above social inhibitions and become a psychological Individual expressing Truth, Courage, Honesty, etc.

The social initiative can come from Individuals as well as schools. However small they are in number at the beginning, ultimately they will lead the nation.

Science of Life

Man has attempted mastery over Nature. To a great extent he has acquired it. By studying Nature and materials, Man has come by a vast amount of data which constantly increases his mastery over Nature. Yoga is the Science of the Spirit. It evolves the next species. In between lies life. Man simply faces life when it confronts him. He cannot handle it. When a cyclone is announced he takes the maximum precaution, nothing more. On a person's wedding day if there is a hartal, he is helpless. But we have never studied life. What causes a cyclone or hartal in life is not a question we ever ask. Hartal is a protest of a body of men. Cyclone is a tumultuous rush of air to a point of low pressure. At the moment of hartal in the town, you may see something in you is virulently protesting against some detail of the wedding arrangement. If you can locate it, see how irrational your protest is and withdraw it, the hartal in the town will be cancelled. There is no problem of life that cannot be so solved. Life can be taught in the school as science. The child of that school will have mastery over all life circumstances. He may not have to face any problem of life that we face today. The Indian society was once on that footing. We must now restore it and enlarge it to suit modern conditions. The Theory of Social Evolution has attempted it and found it feasible. Man, having crossed the path of Nature, ended with pollution. We must cooperate with Nature. The system of education we need cannot consider Nature as material Nature. Nature has life. It is presided over by Prakriti. Prakriti has a being. It is the evolving Spirit called Psychic Being. At this point, Indian education must make a drastic departure from Western material education.

  • Western education has produced entrepreneurs based on physical material knowledge gathered by the Mind of Ignorance.
  • Beyond that Mind of Ignorance lies the Mind of Silence to which all great philosophers of the world belong, the Mind of vision to which Rishis belong, the Mind of Intuition to which Einstein and Srinivasa Ramanujam belong. Such a system will produce Einsteins and Ramanujams by the hundreds and thousands as the present system produces PhDs and research scholars.
  • This is our heritage, waiting for us to draw upon it.
  • The educational aim is not to go to USA for study, but to attract students from all over the world to study in India.

Every scientific discovery was vehemently opposed at the time of introduction in all countries. Glenn Doman, who has discovered a wonderful method of education which produces children at the age of ten with the endowment of students at the age of twenty-five, is decried in the USA. He remains obscure even in his local town. The only departure he has made is he shifted the learning from the teacher to the student. By student he means the Mind of Ignorance of the student. Our system will shift the learning three or four levels above that Mind of Ignorance to the Mind of Intuition and above. Our system will differ from the present system as the present system differs from the old Indian system that taught only language and arithmetic.

  • The present system creates intellectuality.
  • In our system, intellectuality is a bar.
  • We create insight and intuition.
  • Our system discourages Memory.
  • The Western system relies on written records for Memory.
  • Our system will replace memory by Intuition.
  • Our normal products will be Einsteins and Ramanujams.
  • The present system is empirical.
  • We know knowledge resides above for us to draw upon. We raise our minds and the knowledge descends into them.
  • Our schools are meant for all. Bright children are not to go to schools. They learn on their own to reach higher levels.
  • Our schools and homes warn children against Truth. They are armed with enough falsehood to survive in the society.
  • The system I envision requires utter Truthfulness in the child. No parent who relies on social falsehood can send his child to our schools.
  • The Western child is taught not to lie. We teach our children to lie implicitly and directly.
  • The vast records that Western life demands prevents lying.Now computer almost makes lying impossible. Our system does require in addition to these a culture of Truth at home, at school, etc.
  • The present system has produced outstanding individuals such as Milton, Newton, Marx, and Churchill. We know Sri Aurobindo Himself passed through this system. They were great in spite of the system. Tagore, Wells, and Shaw could not tolerate this system. By and large all great minds so far were created outside this system.
  • The future prosperity needs entrepreneurs. But the Future needs the entrepreneurs of the Spirit, the spiritually awakened Individual.
  • Creation of the system is easy because it is our motive that creates it. The past is not to be neglected. Past does not mean rituals or scriptural texts. The past means the essence of the Spiritual Light we have inherited. The present is the demands of the society we live in. To link them with the necessary ORGANISATION is not a stupendous task.
  • We must, for the present, ignore the government which cannot move. The social elite through Individual efforts and the schools they found should sponsor this system. One important basis is NOT to seek government recognition, but to base it on the inner and outer capacity the student gets from the school to enter the society.
  • To say the least, it is a revolutionary proposal. It will be a revolutionary effort in practice.

Knowledge is inside, not outside

From ancient times the yogi went inside to discover the ultimate knowledge. Jesus, Buddha and the Rishis did so. Poets all over the world and philosophers have found the knowledge inside. Copernicus discovered the heliocentric system by an inspiring idea from inside. That is why Einstein, who discovered the formula of the universe, said that one who does not have the intuitive emotion cannot be an original scientist. He himself discovered the formula inside. Man who makes a great progress by resigning a salaried job in favour of self-employment arrives at that decision inwardly. Just because hundreds and thousands of entrepreneurs are rolling in wealth, there is no exodus from the salaried class away from it and into business ventures. That decision is made inside. Any decision is made only inside. Decisions imposed from outside are powerless and not long lasting. If decisions are part of Mind, knowledge is a prior part of the Mind. Charles Darwin collected facts, systematized them and classified them, but the formulas of the survival of the fittest, natural selection and struggle for existence were not in the data. They were inside his mind.

  • All knowledge is inside; it is discovered outside.
  • The scientist seeks knowledge outside.
  • What is outside is the data.
  • It is observation that converts information into data.
  • Had Darwin concentrated in his mind for a tenth of the time he researched, he would have landed on those formulas.
  • Discovery is inside; confirmation is outside.
  • The method of the scientist is physical and therefore primitive. He has to learn to use his thinking Mind, not the physical Mind.
  • Indian system of education must decide on this point and break with the Western system.
  • Once the dependence on the Western system is radically broken, drawing up a curriculum or syllabus is no great task.
  • Not only in education must India break with the West, but such a radical change is called for in all walks of lifein employment, raising of children, politics, etc. - without which spiritualisation of life is a mere platitude, a pious wish, a ritualistic nonsense which will make him the butt end of derisive laughter. Gandhiji asked the Working Committee to accept ahimsa as a state policy towards aggressive military neighbours. The Congress unanimously refused the proposal.

book | by Dr. Radut