This discourse was given to a congregation of teachers and students published in booklet of same name.
I am very pleased to be present among you. Certainly, on this occasion, I would like to share some of my heartfelt views with you.
It is painful to see the present condition of education. Birth of a free and healthy man is not possible in a condition where, in the name of education, all sorts of slaveries are nourished.
The root causes for the ugliness and crippledness humanity is caught in are hidden in our education.
The present education has cut man off from nature certainly, but has not been able to give birth to any refinement, to any culture. Instead it has given birth to unnatural life. Every generation goes on imposing this unnaturalness on the next generation. And when this unnaturalness is considered refinement and culture, no wonder if even this act of imposition takes the color of a virtuous deed.
When a sin masks itself as virtue, it becomes very dangerous.
That is why exploitation hides itself behind service, violence puts on the garb of nonviolence and unnaturalness wears the mask of refinement. It is not without reason that irreligion resides in the temples of religion. Irreligion never presents itself direct and naked. So it is always appropriate that mere clothing should not be relied upon. It is necessary to uncover things and see them as they are.
I would like to look at education, exposing it. I hope you will not feel bad about it. I am helpless, it is necessary to do so. To see the real soul of education it is necessary to remove its so-called clothing, because in extremely beautiful clothes, certainly some ugly, unhealthy soul is residing; otherwise the life of human beings would not have been so full of hate, violence, and irreligiousness.
When we find bitter, poisonous fruits on the tree of life, does it not remind us of our having sown the wrong seeds? If the seeds are right, how can wrong fruits be grown? What else does the fact of the tree being full of poisonous fruits indicate? If the man is found wrong, certainly the education is not right.
It is possible that you may not have been thinking on similar lines to me, and my thoughts may not match with yours, but I do not want you to agree with me; all I request is that you listen to me. Only that much is enough. It is enough to listen to the truth, silently. It is only untruth that insists on being believed. Truth brings results just by its being listened to.
Listening rightly to the truth becomes its acceptance.
My views may be different or in opposition to the educational scriptures. I am neither an educationist nor a sociologist. That is, however, fortunate for me, because the more one knows the scriptures, the more difficult it becomes to know life. Scriptures are always an obstacle in knowing the truth.
In a mind full of scriptures, contemplation ceases to be. Is not an unburdened, fair, unbiased mind necessary for contemplation? Scriptures and principles create sides. Then it is not possible to have an unbiased and innocent view about life and its problems of life.
For those to whom scriptures are more important, solutions become more important than the problems. Such a man starts viewing the problems in the context of his solutions, instead of looking for solutions in the context of the problems. It creates such an idiotic situation, where problems do not get solved but increase. The whole history of man is its evidence.
Why is man's thinking and doing so different and contradictory? It is the result of solutions based on the scriptures, and principles being imposed on life. Solutions have not come out of problems, they have been imposed on problems. Solutions are on the outside and problems are inside. Solutions are in the intellect, problems pertain to life. This inner conflict has become suicidal.
This insanity that has been going on within the civilization has now reached an explosive state. The whole human race is fear-stricken by this potential explosion. But what can you achieve by being fearful? What is needed is not to be fearful, but to understand and recognize the whole situation with courage.
I will not bring scriptures in between, because I do not want to be blinded by solutions. I would like to draw your attention to the facts which can be seen only by looking directly at the problems. Is it not possible to see life directly? Is it not possible that we see life directly as the first man would have seen it? Can our mind not see life simply, naturally, and freely?
I consider this to be the most basic problem confronting education. It is not good if education makes the mind of a person burdened, complicated and old. A burdened and old mind deprives a person of the knowledge, joy and beauty of life. For experiencing the knowledge, joy and beauty of life, a young mind is required. The body is bound to become old, but not the mind; mind can always remain young. The mind can remain young till the very last moment of death, and only such a mind can know the mysteries of life and death. Only such a mind is a religious mind.
But the present education makes the mind old. It does not awaken the mind but fills it, and so it becomes old. By being filled with all sorts of thoughts, the mind becomes old, burdened and tired.
Feeding thoughts means feeding the memory. It does not spark thinking or intelligence. Memory is not intelligence. Memory is mechanical. Intelligence is consciousness.
Thoughts are not to be given to you but to be awakened in you. Where thinking is awakened, the mind is always young. Where the mind is young, life is a constant challenge. There the doors of consciousness are and the fresh morning breeze comes in, the light of the rising sun comes in.
When a person becomes imprisoned by the thoughts and words of others, his own ability to fly in the sky of truth is destroyed.
But what does education do? Does it teach how to think or is it satisfied only with feeding dead, borrowed thoughts? What other power makes one more alive than the power of thinking? But also nothing makes one more lifeless and rigid than learning others' thoughts. Accumulation of others' thoughts brings idiocy. By accumulation of thoughts, thinking and intelligence are not born. Too much emphasis on mechanical memory in the birth of thinking and intelligence, is fatal. Enough opportunities for thinking and use of intelligence should be made available if they are to grow. Doubt instead of belief is to be taught if thinking and intelligence are to grow.
Belief and trust bind you, whereas doubt liberates. But by doubt I do not mean distrust. Distrust is only the negative form of trust or belief. Neither trust nor distrust but doubt is required. Trust and distrust are both the death of doubt. And where there is no liberating intensity of doubt, there is neither any search for the truth nor its attainment.
The intensity of doubt becomes the search. Doubt is thirst, doubt is longing. It is in the fire of doubt that the life force is stirred and thinking is born. The pain of doubt is the birth pain of thinking. One who escapes that pain is deprived of the birth of thinking.
Do we doubt? Do we doubt the fundamental meanings and values of life? If not, then certainly our education has been wrong somewhere. There can be no other base for right education except right doubt. If there is no doubt, how can there be any search? If there is no doubt, how will there be any discontentment? If there is no doubt, how will your being long for knowing and attaining the truth?
That is why we have all become shallow puddles of contentment, and our souls have not remained rivers constantly running in search of the ocean.
Who has created this rigidity? It is certainly created by our education and teachers. Through the medium of teachers the mind of man has been chained, subtly, in slaveries. This subtle exploitation is very old. Reasons for the exploitation are many - religions, priests, the governments, the vested interests of the society, the rich and the politicians.
The politician has never liked that people should have any ability to think, because where there is thinking there are seeds of rebellion. Thinking is basically rebellious, because thinking is never blind, it has its own eyes. Thinking cannot be swayed this way and that; it cannot be made to accept or do everything you wish. It cannot be made a blind follower.
That is why politicians are never in favor of thinking; they are in favor of faith. Faith is blind. If a man is blind he can be exploited. If a man is blind he can be made to harm his own interests. A man's blindness makes him a victim of all sorts of exploitation, so faith is taught and trust is taught. This is what religions have done. This is what politicians have done. Politicians are afraid of people's ability to think. If thinking arises, there will be no castes and no classes. Monetary exploitation is also not possible. It is also not possible to explain away the exploitation as the result of past lives.
Along with thinking will come a revolution at all levels and in all relationships, and then neither the politicians nor the boundaries of nations can survive. No wall keeping apart man from man can survive. So capitalist politicians as well as communist politicians, both are afraid of thinking. It is for protection against this fear that the present education system is devised the way it is. This so-called education is a part of a big conspiracy which has been continuing for hundreds of years. Earlier the priests were dominating it, now the politicians are dominating.
In the absence of thinking a powerful individual cannot be created because the very foundation for creating the individuality is missing. What is the foundation stone of individuality? Is it not the capacity for independent thinking? But this capacity gets destroyed before its birth. The Gita is taught, the Koran is taught, The Bible is taught, Das Kapital and the Communist Manifesto are taught, and thinking in accordance to their structure is taught. What can be more false than this type of thinking? Blind repetitiveness is taught and this they call thinking.
Where there is a given base, a structure, belief or faith, thinking is impossible. For thinking, mind must be free of all structures. If education gives preconceived structures to the mind, it is not proper. Education should provide such alertness and cautiousness that the mind does not get set in preconceived structures. Education should provide such an understanding that the mind does not become a slave to conditionings and also so that independent thinking ability can arise. If proper attention is given, this can definitely be done. Seeds for independent thinking are already there in every person. In the proper climate these seeds can sprout.
Who does not love freedom? Who does not desire his own independent thinking and intelligence?
But where the whole educational system is devised for enslaving man rather than securing his freedom the situation is different. In that case it is a real wonder that a few individuals are able to save themselves from being machines in spite of having passed through that educational structure meant for slavery. There is no greater achievement than that of saving one's individuality even after passing through such educational structures.
Universities have attained to peaks in their efficiency in destroying the original geniuses. More emphasis is laid on discipline, only to take away the freedom of man. The lack of intelligence is being made up by discipline. If there is intelligence, discipline is born by itself in the life of a person.
It is not necessary to learn discipline, it comes of its own accord.
But where intelligence is not encouraged, one has to depend on the imposed discipline. Such discipline is bound to be false because it is not arising from within one's own self and because its roots are not there in one's own intelligence. The conscience of the individual is always smoldering from within in opposition to imposed discipline. As a reaction to such a discipline, licentiousness is born. Licentiousness is always a reaction to slavery. It is the unavoidable echo of slavery.
Consciousness full of freedom can never be licentious. If a man is to be saved from the disease of licentiousness, his soul must receive the atmosphere of total freedom. However, we know only two alternatives - either slavery or licentiousness. We have not yet become ready for freedom.
Discipline imposed by others is also a slavery. This kind of discipline is falling apart everywhere, and this has created anxiety. This sort of discipline is bound to fall apart - it should fall apart; reasons supporting its existence are wrong. Its death is hidden within it. This discipline is hiding suppressed chaos within it. And whatsoever is suppressed forcefully is bound to explode one day.
Such a discipline, while it exists, takes away the bliss and naturalness of man's consciousness, and when it falls apart it leaves the person as a ruin. Discipline imposed from outside is never in the interest of any man.
Education should be free of the outside imposition of discipline; it should awaken the dormant intelligence of individuals. Such intelligence becomes self-discipline. In such a life there is neither suppression nor heaviness. Such a life is simple and natural like flowers. When life is progressing through the light of one's own intelligence, there is no possibility of chaos and licentiousness. Where there is no suppression, there is no possibility of an explosion of chaos and licentiousness.
I am asking, can't we make man free? There appears to be the fear of licentiousness in giving freedom. This is so because we have always suppressed man in slaveries, and his soul has been always struggling to be free from slaveries. Whenever it has been possible it has broken the shackles. But in the attempt to break them, the soul becomes so full of bitterness, stiffness and opposition that it becomes licentiousness, rather than becoming free. Freedom is creative, licentiousness is destructive. But if we want to avoid licentiousness, there is no other way but to allow freedom.
Education can definitely lay foundations which can make man free. We do not want a disciplined man any more, we want a man who is rooted in freedom and intelligence. In him there is hope and there is a future.
What have the methods of discipline achieved? Discipline has given stupidity and lifelessness to man. A disciplined person is bound to be rigid. The more rigid he is, the more disciplined he will be. You see how disciplined machines are! Intelligence cannot always say yes; it should also know how to say no. In your yes there will be meaning and value only if you know when to say no. But discipline never teaches saying no; it always expects to be told yes. If a disciplined man is asked to shoot, he has to shoot. It is only because of such education that war, violence and all sorts of stupidities have been going on in the world, and they still continue.
Do we not want to break this vicious circle? Will this teaching of discipline stop only after the nuclear war? But after the nuclear war there will be no such necessity because there will neither exist the discipline-giver nor the disciplined. For the future of humanity there is more danger from the disciplined people than anybody else, because they know only how to obey commands. Those obedient people are ready even to use nuclear weapons. This world would have been totally different had intelligence been taught instead of discipline, had thinking been taught instead of obedience.
Education is not meant for teaching discipline, but for developing one's own intelligence. Whatever discipline results from intelligence, that alone can bring goodness and benediction, because such discipline cannot be exploited. It cannot be made an instrument for violence and war in the hands of priests and politicians. On the strength of such a discipline Hindus cannot be made to fight with Mohammedans, nor can the havoc of death be launched in the name of imaginary and false boundaries of nations. In the name of discipline and obedience, what wrongdoings have not been ordered?
As things are now the society is making the teachers do the work of disciplining the new generation.
The teacher has been an instrument for many types of exploitations. He is instrumental in spreading many diseases. Perhaps he is not aware of this, because the teacher himself is the victim of similar education.
Every generation passes on, by way of inheritance, its jealousies, enmities, stupidities to the new generation through the teacher. It gives its diseases and insensibilities along with its experiences and knowledge. It is more insistent and cautious about giving its diseases than its experiences and knowledge, because its enmities and its blind beliefs are its ego gratifications. A Hindu father teaches his children to be a Hindu, a Jaina teaches his children to be a Jaina and a Mohammedan father teaches his children to be a Mohammedan. He wants to hand over to his children the poisons of the life-negative sects he was brought up in.
Through many educational mediums this poison is being spread. Because of such poisonous teaching humanity is not able to become one, and our eyes are not drawn towards that religion which is one and can only be one. Similarly, nationalism is taught, and national egos are strengthened.
Every nation is prepared, and made to stand in opposition to the other nations. As a result violence grows and the fire of war continuously burns.
Where there is ego, there is war and violence. There are many such other diseases, viruses which are spread by the teachers among innocent children. This is one of the most ugly crimes committed against man. If the teacher is very alert, only then can he prevent himself from participating in this crime.
Those who are powerful in society do not want any change in the social structure, because their power, interest and exploiting capacity depend on it. The teacher inculcates the structure into the young minds of the children. He goes on binding every new generation to the old traditions. He does not teach any rebelliousness to children. And where there is no rebelliousness, there is no growth.
What is the duty of a teacher?
His duty is to teach rebelliousness.
The day education will be rebellious a new, absolutely new humanity will be born.
What is the meaning of rebellion? It means a revolution of values. Certainly the values of life are wrong; otherwise why should there be so much disturbance, meaninglessness and confusion in the life of man? This ugliness, this violence, this jealousy and irreligiousness, are they all without any reason? No, the values of life are wrong and these are its natural outcome. The values of life will have to be changed. Man needs new values. And for that, preparation for a great rebellion is necessary.
The teacher will have to wake up from his sleep. Excepting the teacher there is no other Bhagiratha - Indian mythological figure - who can bring down on earth the Ganges of rebellion from heaven.
But the teacher is in great illusions. The society may well starve him by not paying him enough, but the society shows great respect for him. The teacher has always been respected and honored. His ego is nourished by being told that a teacher deserves respect and honor. That is how he is kept in delusion. Thus he is being used to cast new generations into old molds. The teacher is exploited by being treated with great respect. The society does not give respect to the teacher for nothing. In exchange for the respect given, society cheaply takes very costly work from the teacher. I ask you, are the teachers aware of this?
The history of man is full of stupidities. Blind beliefs and false knowledge have erected their camps everywhere. But the teacher does not allow new generations to be free of these chains. He has been the servant of the past and thus has proved to be an enemy of the future. Is it fair that the burden of the past should be on our heads? Let the past be the ground under our feet, but it should not become a burden on our heads. For building the future a mind free of the past is a necessity.
Let experiences of the past add to man's knowledge, but not bind him, because he has to go far beyond them. The past is the beginning of his journey, not the end. He has to proceed forward, from where the past generation has left him. Every generation has to defeat the past generation in every aspect - not only in the material aspect, but in the mental and religious aspects also. Certainly the ego of the past generation is hurt because of this. And because of this ego the past generation does not like to see any development and progress that surpasses it.
Perhaps the ego and jealousy of the individuals infects the whole generation. All the founders of religions have claimed that there will be no other exponents of their religion. Every paigambara or messiah has said that he is the ultimate. Each has proclaimed himself to be omniscient. In this way they have closed all the doors for the development of knowledge in the future. The golden era is always in the past; in the future there is a fall and degeneration.
It is very harmful to tie man to the pegs of the past. But the old generation always wants to impose its scriptures and principles on the new generation. This has been happening for hundreds of years.
As a result, the soul of man could not develop as much as it might have. It did not acquire the maturity which it could have acquired. It is buried under the rocks of the past, and the burden is so heavy that it cannot climb higher.
The purpose of education is to unburden the soul of man, because only weightless souls can rise to the peaks of godliness. The burden of dead conditionings does not allow the seed of consciousness to sprout, and the seed gets destroyed slowly, buried as it is in the ground. It is not possible for the seed of one's individuality to sprout without being unburdened from the past. If the grip of the past is loose, only then man can make progress. The past is a ladder which has to be climbed and left behind. Carrying it on your head is not wise.
In this world material wealth is increasing, because every new generation takes it to more distant horizons than the past generation, but spiritual wealth is not increasing because our minds are very shackled to the past. The son does not hesitate to build a new house where his father had made one. But some deep fear prevents us from developing the inheritance that is left behind by Rama, Krishna, Buddha, Mahavira or Christ. This fear is a taught one, this fear is an imposed one.
A commentary on the Gita can be written, but thinking beyond the Gita is not allowed. And it is considered that there can be nothing beyond the Koran. This attitude has made man very crippled and spiritually poor. If the son becomes more prosperous or goes ahead of his father, it is welcome; it is not disrespectful or insulting to the father. In fact this is the respect, and it is a matter of pride for the father.
Every generation should prepare the new generation in such a way that the old generation is left far behind in every way. The desire to keep the new generation tied to the old generation, and to restrict its movement within the boundaries of the old, is a sick desire and is not indicative of a healthy mind.
It is necessary to reflect upon the fact that the current educational system has been cooperating in drawing these boundary lines.
I am unable to understand this madness. My love tells me only this, that all those who are born in the world after me should surpass me in every way; that they should build such a new world that we could not have even imagined; that their souls should be brighter and their thinking purer; that their eyes may encounter those truths which we could not, and their feet travel on unknown paths which were not known to us even in our dreams. Love can wish and pray for only this. I would not like to bind my children by my knowledge or by my experiences; I would like to make them free.
Love always frees. Love that binds is not love, but violence.
Education should be future-oriented, not past-oriented. Then only is development possible. Any creative process can only be future-oriented.
Is it not right then that we teach love and respect for the future? There has been too much meaningless worship of the past. Is it not right that now there should be prayers in our heart for the future sunrises? But we are tied to the past. The past means that which is gone and is nowhere except in the memory. But all our principles, our concepts and our ideals are taken from the past.
This way the dead are ruling over the living. Respect for the dead is one thing, but to be ruled by the dead is another thing. However, because of the past ruling over us, even healthy respect for it does not become possible. A constant resistance against the domination of the past keeps accumulating within.
Heartful respect for the past is possible only when the past is not governing us. That respect will be very soulful. In that respect there will be a gratitude and grace. That gratitude will not bind us, but will make us feel more unburdened and weightless. Without any effort our heart is full of gratitude towards those who allow us freedom. Gratitude towards those who bind is not natural and is not possible.
Education is termed as the propagation of knowledge. It certainly should be the propagator of knowledge - but if education is propagating bondages, it cannot be a propagator of knowledge.
Knowledge is where the mind is free. Where the mind is in bondage, how can there be knowledge?
Knowledge itself is liberation.
Education teaches fear. Education teaches greed. Education teaches jealousy and competition.
Education initiates the fever of ambition. How can such education be the propagator of knowledge?
How can such education be liberating? It is a propagator of deadly diseases. Friends, this is not the propagation of knowledge, but the propagation of ignorance.
When I look, I find that there is no more dreadful a disease than fear. What else is there in life to be feared more than fear itself? Fear paralyses the very being of a person. Fear destroys the whole capacity for rebellion. Fear makes any change impossible. Fear binds one to the known, and the journey to the unknown is completely stopped, although whatever is worth knowing and achieving in life is all unknown.
God is unknown. Truth is unknown. Beauty is unknown. Love is unknown. But the fearful mind always clings to the known. It does not go beyond the drawn line. It treads upon the beaten track. It never leaves the laid-out tracks. The fearful person becomes mechanical and he is no better than a drudge. Religions teach fear - fear of hell, fear of sins and fear of punishment. Society teaches fear - fear of dishonor. Education teaches fear - fear of failure.
Simultaneously there is greed attached - greed for heaven, greed for fruits of virtue; greed for respect, position, reputation, success and rewards. All greed is the other side of the coin of fear.
In the present system the consciousness of a person becomes full of fear and greed. The fire of jealousy and competition is aroused. The fever of ambition is created. It is no wonder if, in all these circular motions, life is wasted.
Such education is dangerous. Such religions are dangerous. Education is that which teaches fearlessness, stabilizes one in non-greed, gives energy to rebel, gives courage to accept the challenge of the unknown. Education should not teach jealousy and competition, but love; it should not encourage the insane drive of ambition, but natural and self-inspired growth. But this can happen only if we accept the uniqueness of everyone's individuality.
Comparison of one with the other is a fundamental mistake. Comparison creates competition.
Neither anyone is ahead nor anyone is behind; nobody is below and nobody is above. Everyone is that which he is, and everyone has to be that. The teaching of ideals does not allow this. Children are told to be like Rama, to be like Buddha, to be like Gandhi. What can be more erroneous than this? Can anybody become like somebody else, or has anybody ever been able to become like somebody else? It is not possible to become Rama. Yes, one can become the Rama of the drama of Ramaleela....
That is why there is so much hypocrisy in the world. Hypocrisy is the shadow of ideals. As long as ideals are imposed, there will be hypocrisy. If hypocrisy is to be uprooted, ideals will have to be dropped. In fact, no man is born to be like anyone else. Everybody has to be just himself. Everyone has to let that seed which is hidden within him grow into a tree.
When education accepts the truth of everybody's unique and unparalleled individuality, that will be the beginning of a great revolution. Then we will not impose any structure on anybody else, but we will help what is dormant in their seed to manifest. Because of ideals a lot of violence has been taking place and we did not allow an opportunity to a person to be what he can be. In an attempt to be someone else, not only does a person not become that other person, he is not able to be what he could have been.
I very humbly would like to request you to let everyone be what he is born to be. A rose is a rose and a jasmine is a jasmine. Neither anyone is higher nor anyone is lower. The rose cannot be a jasmine and the jasmine cannot be a rose. This valuation of big and small, higher and lower, is false and absurd. Destroy these valuations. A poet is not greater than a cobbler, and the politician is also not higher than anyone. A teacher does not become higher by becoming a president.
Life is a cooperation and in it everyone has a place and everyone is necessary and unavoidable.
Don't you see the insanity of ambitiousness the whole world has fallen into because of attaching reputation to position and to functions? It is sheer foolishness that a rose be taught to become a jasmine, and a grass leaf be provoked to become a lotus. What is meaningful is that the roseflower blooms to its fullness and the grass leaf blooms to its fullness, that their petals may not remain undeveloped and their fragrance may not remain unreleased.
There is no other bliss in life except that one blooms to one's full potential. That is the right direction for the work of education.
Neither is there any need to teach ideals, nor is there any need to teach people to follow anyone.
All efforts should be centered towards one aim: that people can realize the fulfillment of their individuality. Then only will it be possible to be free of ambition and the fever of jealousy. Then only will a society be created which can achieve equality and peace. Only a society which is free from ambition can be classless and without exploitation.
Can there be no such education, which is not based on ambition? Is mathematics and music learned for the purpose of leaving other classmates behind? Is it not possible to learn mathematics for the love of mathematics, and music for the love of music? As I see it, music can be learned and its depth experienced only if there is love for music, not by being a competitor to anyone else.
Would a competitive mind know music? Competition itself is a disharmony. Music is known by those who have sunk deep into music, not by those who have run in competition. There is an opposition between running and diving deep. Running is full of tension, sinking deep is relaxation. Running is feverish; it takes you out of yourself. To dive deep is healthy, because by diving deep within, one settles in the ultimate depths of his own self. Learning is the art of diving deep. What teaches you only how to run, I call that wrong learning.
Once I went to a meeting of teachers. It was a Teachers' Day celebration. There I asked them, "What is there to respect in a teacher's becoming a president? Is the teacher lower and the president higher? If it is so, then there is no dignity of education or the teacher; the dignity is given to the politician and politics. Yes, if a president gives up his position and becomes a teacher it can be a matter of dignity for the teacher."
As long as we keep the politician higher, we are teaching politics to children. The politicians always say that the students and teachers should keep out of politics. But the higher status of politicians arouses expectations in others. No wonder the teachers dream of being minister of education or vice-president or president, and if they are running about to fulfill their dreams it is natural. Then there is nothing wrong if other teachers are busy in trying to secure honors for the whole teaching community.
Education has to rid itself from ambition. Ambition is politics. It is due to ambition that politics has acquired a seat on a high pedestal. Where there is position, there is respect. Where there is power, there is position. Where there is a ruler, there is power. Because of this race violence is born in life. The ambitious mind is a violent mind. Lessons of nonviolence are given, and at the same time, ambition is also taught. What greater stupidity can there be?
Nonviolence is love. Ambition is competition. Love always feels like remaining behind. Competition always wants to be ahead of all. Christ has said, "Blessed are those who are capable of being the last." I would like those whom I love to stand ahead of me, and if I love all, I shall enjoy standing last in the queue. But competition is just the reverse of love. It is jealousy, hatred and violence. It always wants to stand ahead of all, in every way.
This race of keeping ahead begins in educational institutions and ends in the grave. The same race is there in individuals. The same race is there in nations. Wars are the final result of this very race.
Why does this race exist? What is it rooted in? Its root is in the ego. The ego is taught and the ego is nourished.
The ego is being taught and encouraged in small children. Their simple, innocent minds are made poisonous by the ego. They are also encouraged to stand first. Gold medals, merit certificates and prizes are being given. This nourished ego pursues them throughout their lives like a ghost and does not allow them to relax till the last moment of their death. Sermons are given about humbleness, but what is taught in real practice is ego.
Will it not be the luckiest day in the history of man when we stop teaching ego to the children? Not ego, but love is to be taught. There is love only when there is no ego. For this the whole system of education will have to be totally changed. Categories like first and last will have to be dropped.
Examinations will have to be eradicated. In their place, those values of life will have to be established which emerge from the acceptance of an egoless and loving life as the highest life-philosophy.
When love replaces ambition, truth is established in the place of success automatically. Where success is the only value of life, there cannot be truth. The central importance given to success has really killed truth. No, being successful is not all there is to life. Mere success is not a value in itself.
It is more valuable and dignified to be unsuccessful in a good project than to be successful in doing a wrong thing. It is better to be unsuccessful in love than to be successful in competition. Is it not more valuable to be unsuccessful in religiousness than to be successful in amassing wealth?
I do not see the value of life only in being successful. I see the value of life in truth, in goodness, in beauty. But as long as success is the only measure, the soul of man cannot move towards truth, goodness and beauty. For truth, goodness and beauty to prevail, even failure will have to have its place in life. One should be able to see that in that direction even failure has dignity. It is a victory even to be defeated for truth, because in your courage to accept even defeat for the sake of truth, your soul is strengthened and it is able to touch those high peaks which are shining bright with the light of God.
Victory and defeat are meaningless. The meaning is in the front - on which front there is victory or defeat. Is it the front of truth or untruth, love or hate, humane or inhumane activities? I say blessed are those who give up victory on the path of untruth and embrace defeat on the path of truth, because that way they are victorious even in their defeat and attain to the deathless even in their death.
But all this is possible only if there is a revolution in the system of education and the values given to victory and defeat, which have for centuries troubled man, are taken away.
The greatest offense that is committed towards the truth, happens when we insist upon imposing traditional thinking on the children. This insistence is very dangerous. Belief or disbelief, in respect to the soul and God, are imposed on children. The Gita, the Koran, Krishna and Mahavira are imposed on children. Because of this, the quest for knowing the truth never arises in them. They are unable to develop and have their own questions. The question of finding their own solutions does not even arise. They go on repeating the readymade solutions their whole life. Their condition is like parrots. Repetition is not reflection, repetition is mechanical. Truth cannot be received from others, it has to be searched for and attained by everyone for himself.
Is it not fair that inquisitiveness in children be encouraged, that they should not be shackled with readymade solutions? They should be helped in developing their own questions; borrowed answers should not be dumped on them. If education can only send them out on the great journey of discovering the truth of life, its work is over.
In my view, the teacher is one who arouses the dormant questioning in children, awakens inquisitiveness and makes children fearless and courageous enough to find solutions for themselves.
One can be a teacher in this sense only if he himself is free from prejudices and biases.
That is why becoming a teacher needs endeavor full of devotion. A soul with awareness, rebelliousness and alertness is required for becoming a teacher. A teacher in whom the fire of rebellion is missing will become, knowingly or unknowingly, a broker for some vested interest - some morality, some religion or some politics. Such a teacher will impose his beliefs and biases, of which he himself is a prisoner, on the children.
If a teacher is free, then only can he be a messenger of freedom to his students. That is why I said that to be a teacher is a great endeavor full of devotion. It is a great rebellion. Within the teacher there should be a burning flame of thinking, contemplation and rebellion. He has to destroy many things so that he can create. He has to obliterate many things to enable himself to do something new. He has to put fire to the heaps of rubbish accumulated over many generations, and he has to cut the useless weeds and grass that have grown and clear the ground of mind so that the flowers of love and beauty can be grown there.
This is a great responsibility. If the teacher is able to fulfill this requirement, only then a new man and new humanity can take birth.