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Listener: What is Education?
Speaker: Govind’s question is, ‘What is Education ?’ And it’s wonderful that at least now, we are asking what is education? This question should have been asked way earlier. But it’s not too bad that it’s been asked today.
What is education? Why do we get educated?
There are two kinds of education, just as man has two ends. Just as every human being has two ends, similarly there are two kinds of education. Before we go into these two types, we have to understand what are these two ends at which all of us exist?
On one end, at one pole, we are just machines. Absolutely mechanical, pre programmed. We do not decide the configuration of our body. We do not decide our design. We do not decide birth. We do not decide how and when hunger will arise. We do not decide how we are growing up, how the cells in the body multiplying. That is one particular end, the physical end. At the physical end we are all programmed machines. And at this end there is very little freedom.Very very little freedom.
Then there is another end, the end of free will. Where there is no conditioning at all. Where you really know what is happening. Where no forces dominate over you. Where you can understand all the programmed activity going around you.
Man exists between these two ends, between these two poles and it is upon you that where you want to be. If you are closer to the programmed pole, if you are deeply body identified, there will be very little freedom there and a lot of fear, because the machine has nothing of its own. It all comes from the outside and it all can be taken back by the outside.
On the other hand, where there is freewill, there is understanding, there is knowing, there is a lot of freedom and there is no need to fear because nothing you have that can be taken away.
This end is not physical, this end is pure mind and the other end is body, the physical end. Man exists between these two poles. This is an axis’s and man can be anywhere on this axis’s.
There is one kind of education which deals with the physical only, just the physical. This education is concerned only with sustaining the body and sustaining the body includes earning money, having some kind of shelter and all the other stuffs. This is the kind of education that we have been receiving since our childhood. Look closely at everything that you have studied since childhood and you will find that it has only one purpose, to sustain the body, to make the sustenance of the body more comfortable. It has no utility beyond that. It takes care of only one pole of man’s existence, the body pole, the physical pole.
You want to know more about the river, the mountains and they are physical, you want to know about the structure of the atom ,they are physical. What do you do after knowing the structure of the atom? You generate electricity which gives you certain bodily comfort, which is alright because that is one pole of our existence. So, it is alright. We are not finding any fault with that, it is important to have that kind of education that we have been receiving. This education will probably get you a job, will get you some money, this education has given us education, the entire expense of medical science which helps keep the body fit, which prevents diseases, but this education is not sufficient.
It is important but not at all sufficient because man is not body alone. We do not live merely to eat and be protected under shelter. Or do you live merely for that? To eat, reproduce and be protected. Is that what you live for? But our entire education so far looks only at the physical world. Languages, history, geography, mathematics, physics, economics. This is lower education.
There is another kind of education, the real, the higher education. When I am calling it ‘real’,it does not mean that I am calling the other end ‘unreal’, the other end is alright. It is needed. It is important, it makes life comfortable but that end is not sufficient. If you have only that end then you have all the technological innovations but a very stupid mind. If you have only this end (the physical end) then you know the structure of the atom but do not understand what is happening in your own heart.
Einstein has said that ‘we are living in an age where it is easier to break an atom than to break a prejudice’. It is because we only get this kind of education which deals only with the physical, the lower education. You may know the farthest expenses of the universe but what will you do. You will colonize other planets, you will even colonize other galaxies, you will use space to wage war against other men and that’s what man has been planning. That the one who controls space, control earth and hence a race among nations to reach planets and do all these things.
This is what happens when only one kind of education prevails. You will move into the heart of the atom, you will split it but, you will not know the consciousness that is looking at the atom.
Somebody has said ‘smart phones but stupid people’. You will have very smart phones but the people using them would be absolutely stupid. You will have guided missiles, missiles that are so smart that you can guide them and they will go and hit any plant but you will have very unguided minds. This is what will happen when only this end of education will be taken care of, absolute madness, great anarchy and man will give himself a thousand tools of destruction. Today you know how we are destroying the planet with global warming. Today you know that we have enough missile material to destroy the earth not once but hundreds of times. What kind of madness is this? Today we very well know what causing climate change, yet we are doing the same things that keep increasing the pace of climate change. This is what happens when you have only that kind of education which says takes care of the body and that the body is all you have.
So what are so many people saying, they saying the body is all I have and my body will last another twenty, thirty years and by that time earth will be alright and I do not care what will happen after thirty years. I am the body and my body is there for thirty years so let me consume, let me pollute and let me enjoy myself. Are you getting it?
Another kind of education is completely missing, the higher education as we say it. This education looks at that which is not mechanical, it looks at the other end of your being. It brings your mind to the free end of your being; it is the awakening of the intelligence, it is the finding of one self. It is the asking of the question,’WHO AM I?’. It is the intelligent observation of the activities of one’s mind, it is the understanding of conditioning and this is higher education.
You know in India we use the word विद्या for education. Are you aware that the education that you have been receiving so far is not at all called विद्या ? It is called अविद्या. All this technological studies and study of languages everything. The scriptures don’t call it विद्या , they say it is अविद्या . Knowledge about the world is अविद्या ; विद्या is only knowledge about the self. We have not received any विद्या so far. अविद्या too is important but विद्या is far more important and we have been trained fully in अविद्या , with environment, no exposure to विद्या the real education, the higher education.
I know everything about how this fan works but, I know nothing about how I work. I fully well know why this fan gets heated up but, I do not know why I get heated up and become angry. I know fully well why a particular chemical breaks up and disappear, but I do not understand what is meant by my own death. I have never tried to encounter that, I have never asked that question.
Because my education have been of this kind and here the question of death is not taken up at all. No syllabus covers death, you had many subjects till now, have you had any subject named or titled ‘I’ or ‘Me’ or ‘Myself’. You have read about the trees, mountains, computer and clothes but, you have never being brought to yourself. That is one thing that you have never read about, that is one thing that you have never bothered to enquire. As if everything is important except you.
Everything in the world is worth studying except yourself. You know about everything but you don’t know about yourself. That’s the taboo and there are many forces around that want that taboo to be maintained. That wants young people like you to remain ignorant about yourselves.
If you can know your own functioning, if you understand your conditioning, your slavery then you will not remain slaves. Hence, they will not give you the other kind of education. They will give you only one kind of education which perpetuates your slavery.
Don’t you see that you have been prepared as finished products to be supplied to some corporations who need to fill their vacancies? They need products of a certain kind and those products are being produced in our school and colleges. If the industry needs people who can make good shoes, colleges will start courses on making shoes. Twenty years back there were not many colleges who had so many seats in Computer Science and IT, today because somebody from outside is demanding, give me more people, so our education is producing more and more output that is useful to that person out there. That person there is dictating what you are studying. So, he is greatly interested that you receive only this kind of education and that you are never exposed to the real education.
A particular industry starts booming and our colleges start courses in that kind of thing. Retail.There was lot of activity in that sector so there were MBA programs specializing in retail management. Now what are you? Just some material to be supplied to somebody so that he can fulfill his needs and he can give you some money with which you can fill your stomach, that’s what you are? Are you that? Unfortunately most of us think that we are no more than that, we are contend with this education, we don’t want to go beyond this.
The world outside is greedy, competitive and violent. So it ensures that the education that you receive in your schools and colleges makes you greedy, competitive and violent. This education gives you bread and butter but makes you deeply a slave.
Have you really chosen what you are studying? Stop and ask yourself. Why am I studying, what I am studying? And there is so much else worth looking at, why am I not looking at that? It’s a question that you must pause and ask. Who is dictating my syllabus? Who is determining what I am ought to study? Am I just a machine or something beyond that?
A lot of tasks that we do as employees can actually be taken up by robots, machines and that is actually happening in lot of countries.There are very few young people there, they have an ageing population .
That shows us that how replaceable we are because a machine is always replaceable by another machine but, intelligence is not replaceable by any machine.A machine will always work within its programming.
It is the other end, the real, which makes you really human. It is this end which makes you really valuable. If you do not give attention to this education, you will find yourself rejected by life itself, you will find that you are just living a degraded life. Pay attention to the real thing.
Before you move into a career ask yourself, ‘why am I doing this job?’. This body will last only so many years, what is this time going to be spent doing? Ask yourself, don’t just jump into things. Everybody has a particular track; class tenth, class twelfth, then B.tech, then MBA, then this, then that and I am too running on that track. Just don’t do that. That track leads nowhere and it’s a very frustrating feeling to run that much and then find that the track leads nowhere.
You are young today; you must ask yourself what is life? What am I entering? What is really valuable into life? Of course, we have stomach to fill. Of course, we have bodies to cover and that must be taken care of but, is that all? Or is that just the foundational, the basic thing? And it is not something that is being understood just today.
2000 years back Jesus had said “Man does not live by bread alone”. Anybody who ever understands knows this fully well. Ask your education that is it giving anything beyond the method to earn bread? Is your education giving anything beyond degree or certificate that entitles you to some kind of livelihood? If not then it is a very poor education.
I am not asking you to not to value your regular academics. I am asking you to put things in perspective. I am asking you what is really important. So many people are born and they die. Even where we are sitting right now, this piece of land would be containing the bodies of hundreds and thousands of people. People come and go; you too are already on the journey of going away. Thirty, fourth, fifty years is nothing. What are you so complacent about?
Ask yourself what is this time to be spend doing?
Don’t just be victims of your education that your education has given you a degree so you must pursue that field. It’s all right, so far you had no option so you were doing what everybody else did but, today you must ask yourself. Getting it?
Excerpted from a ‘Shabd-Yog’ session. Edited for clarity.
Watch the session video: Our inadequate education || Acharya Prashant (2013)
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