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excerpt from "Letters to the Schools" vol 1


As I would like to keep in touch with all the schools in India, Brockwood Park in England, the Oak Grove School at Ojai, California, I propose to write and send a letter every fortnight to them all for as long as is possible. It is naturally difficult to keep in touch with them all personally, so, if I may, I would very much like to write these letters so as to convey what the schools should be, to convey to all the people who are responsible for them, that these schools are not only to be excellent academically but much more. They are to be concerned with the cultivation of the total human being. These centres of education must help the student and the educator to flower naturally. The flowering is really very important, otherwise the education becomes merely a mechanical process orientated to a career, to some kind of profession. Career and profession, as society now exists, is inevitable, but if we lay all our emphasis on that then the freedom to flower will gradually wither. We have laid far too much emphasis on examinations and getting good degrees. That is not the main purpose for which these schools were founded, which does not mean that academically the student will be inferior. On the contrary, with the flowering of the teacher as well as the student, career and profession will take their right place. Society, the culture in which we live, encourages and demands that the student must be orientated towards a job and physical security. This has been the constant pressure of all societies; career first and everything else secondary. That is, money first and the complex ways of our daily life second. We are trying to reverse this process because man cannot be happy with money only. When money becomes the dominant factor in life there is imbalance in our daily activity. So,if I may, I would like all the educators to understand this very seriously and see its full significance. If the educator understands the importance of this, and in his own life has given it its proper place, then he can help the student who is compelled by his parents and society to make a career the most important thing. So I would like with this first letter to emphasize this point and to maintain at all times in these schools a way of life that cultivates the total human being.

     As most of our education is the acquisition of knowledge, it is making us more and more mechanical; our minds are functioning along narrow grooves, whether it be scientific, philosophic, religious, business or technological knowledge that we are acquiring. Our ways of life, both at home and outside it, and our specializing in a particular career, are making our minds more and more narrow, limited and incomplete. All this leads to a mechanistic way of life, a mental standardization, and so gradually the State, even a democratic State, dictates what we should become. Most thoughtful people are naturally aware of this but unfortunately they seem to accept it and live with it. So this has become a danger to freedom.

     Freedom is a very complex issue and to understand the complexity of it the flowering of the mind is necessary. Each one will naturally give a different definition of the flowering of man depending on his culture, on his so-called education, experience, religious superstition - that is, on his conditioning. Here we are not dealing with opinion or prejudice, but rather with a non-verbal understanding of the implications and consequences of the flowering of the mind. This flowering is the total unfoldment and cultivation of our minds, our hearts and our physical well-being. That is, to live in complete harmony in which there is no opposition or contradiction between them. The flowering of the mind can take place only when there is clear perception, objective, non-personal, unburdened by any kind of imposition upon it. It is not what to think but how to think clearly. We have been for centuries, through propaganda and so on, encouraged in what to think. Most modern education is that and not the investigation of the whole movement of thought. The flowering implies freedom; like any plant it requires freedom to grow.

     We will deal with this in every letter in different ways during the coming year: with the awakening of the heart, which is not sentimental, romantic or imaginary, but of goodness which is born out of affection and love; and with the cultivation of the body, the right kind of food, proper exercise, which will bring about deep sensitivity. When these three are in complete harmony - that is, the mind, the heart and the body, then the flowering comes naturally, easily and in excellence. This is our job as educators, our responsibility, and teaching is the greatest profession in life.

(page 9)