THE ANGRY OLD MAN
WHAT IS EDUCATION
(Think about it)
(I don't remember just where this material came from. I found it with some other notes and writings I had been saving. While it sounds like what I would write or say, it's a little too polished, I'm not that skilled at using the language. At any rate, I've added it here because it is a reflection of my thinking. Whenever you see any text inside ( ), that is what I have added to the original )
THE FUNCTION OF EDUCATION:
Is it the function of education to help us understand the whole process of life, or is it merely to prepare us for a vocation, for the best job we can get?
Education has no meaning unless it helps you to understand the vast expanse of life with all its subtleties, with its extraordinary beauty, its sorrows and joys.
What is the point of it all if in the process your mind becomes dull, weary, stupid?
Is it not the true function of education to cultivate in you the intelligence which will try to find the answers to all those problems?
(When I graduated from college in 1989, my class was the first ones required to take a pre-graduation test to see if we had learnt any- thing while spending time in school. We had two tests. One was made up of general knowledge, mostly what you should of learnt in high school. The second part was a writing test. We were given a story, we had to rewrite it. The first time I wrote it, I wrote it as if I was writing for a general purpose magazine. This is what I thought they wanted, something to show that we knew how to communicate with others. It didn't pass. I had to redo it and make it a scholarly paper. I felt this was a little silly, because the reason the test was started was that business's were saying that college grads couldn't even fill out employment applications. On a following page you will find the file "EIGHTH GRADE EXAM" This is an example of how we have went down on our education standards)
DO YOU KNOW WHAT INTELLIGENCE IS?
It is the capacity to think freely, without fear, without a formula, so that you begin to discover for yourself what is real, what is true; but if you are frightened you will never be intelligent.
Not to imitate but to discover-that is education.
It is very easy to conform to what your society or your parents and teachers tell you. That is a safe and easy way of existing; but that is not living, because in it there is fear, decay, death. To live is to find out for yourself what is true, and you can do this only when there is freedom, when there is continuous revolution inwardly, within yourself.
Your parents and society want you to live safely, and you also want to live safely. Living safely generally means living in imitation and therefore in fear.
It is only when you are constantly inquiring, constantly observing, constantly learning, that you find truth, God or love: and you cannot inquire, observe, learn, you cannot be deeply aware, if you are afraid. So the function of education, surely, is to eradicate, inwardly as well as outwardly, this fear that destroys human thought, human relationship and love.
WHAT IT MEANS TO LEARN!
When you are really learning you are learning throughout your life and there is no special teacher to learn from.
You learn from everything, therefore there is no guide, no philosopher, no guru. Life itself is your teacher, and you are in a state of constant learning.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE FREE?
Is freedom a matter of doing what happens to suit you, going where you like, thinking what you will. Merely to have independence, does that mean freedom.
To be free is to be intelligent, but intelligence does not come into being by just wishing to be free; it comes into being only when you begin to understand your whole environment, the social, religious, parental and traditional influences that are continually closing in on you.
Whether in this world of politicians, power, position and authority, or in the so-called spiritual world where you aspire to be virtuous, noble, saintly, the moment you want to be somebody you are no longer free.
The function of education, then. is to help you from childhood not to imitate anybody, but to be yourself all the time.
Freedom lies, not in trying to become something different, nor in doing whatever you happen to feel like doing, nor in following the authority of tradition, of your parents, of your guru, but in understanding what you are from moment to moment.
WHAT IS INTELLIGENCE?
To find out is not to come to a conclusion. The moment you come to a conclusion as to what intelligence is, you cease to be intelligent.
An intelligent mind is one which is constantly learning, never concluding.
An intelligent mind is a mind which is not satisfied with explanations, with conclusions; nor is it a mind that believes because belief is again another form of conclusion. An intelligent mind is an inquiring mind, a mind that is watching, learning, studying. There is intelli- gence only when there is no fear, when you are willing to rebel, to go against the whole social structure in order to find out what God is, or to discover the truth of anything.
intelligence is not knowledge.
If the parents and teachers are really concerned that the young person should discover what he is they won't compel him; they will create an environment in which he will come to know himself.
It is very important to be exposed to new ideas, to something to which you may not be accustomed. It is good to see what is beautiful, but you must also observe the ugly things of life, you must be awake to everything. You must be exposed to things which you perhaps don't quite understand, for the more you think and ponder over these matters which may be somewhat difficult for you, the greater will be your capacity to live richly.
WHAT IS SOCIETY?
Society is the relationship between man and man.
Human relationship makes society; and our present society is built upon a relationship of acquisitiveness.
Education at present is aimed at making you conform, fit into and adjust yourself to this acquisitive society.
A lovely rose is a lovely rose; but we human beings have been given the capacity to think, and we think wrongly. To know HOW to think requires a great deal of penetration, understanding, but to know WHAT to think is comparatively easy. Our present education consists in telling us what to think, it does not teach us how to think, how to penetrate, explore; and it is only when the teacher as well as the student knows how to think that the school is worthy of its name.
You must understand the whole of life, not just one little part of it.
WHY DO YOU LISTEN TO PEOPLE?
Listening to find out has quite a different significance from listening merely to hear that which will confirm what you think.
(the above statement points out why I feel that the 30 second political ads we are force fed before each election are a complete waste. The individuals who don't support that issue or candidate doesn't watch it, and wouldn't learn anything new if they did watch it. Instead, it is watched by its supporters to bolster and confirm their already made up minds.)
True education is to learn how to think, not what to think. If you know how to think, if you really have that capacity, then you are a free human being, free of dogmas, superstitions, ceremonies, and therefore you can find out what religion is.
(in my opinion, a good teacher is one that encourages the students to think, to ask questions such as WHY. It is much easier to understand and learn a concept when you know the why of it instead of just committing it to memory)
Wherever one goes in the world, it does not matter where, one finds that society is in a perpetual state of conflict. There are always the powerful, the rich, the well-to-do on the one hand, and the laborers on the other; and each one is enviously competing with each other. Each one wants a higher position, a bigger salary, more power, greater prestige. That is the state of the world, and so there is always war going on both within and without.
Society is the relationship between you and me; and if our relationship is based on ambition, each one of us wanting to be more powerful than the other, then obviously we shall always be in conflict.
Can we live creatively in this world without the drive of ambition?
You will find the right answer when you love what you are doing. If you can plant a tree, or paint a picture, or write a poem, not to gain recognition but just because you love to do it, then you will find that you never compete with another. This is the real key: TO LOVE WHAT YOU DO.
What we call thinking is the response of memory. If you merely observe, then you will have a direct relationship with people and with things. If you can observe alertly, keenly, but without judging, without concluding, you will find that your thinking becomes astonishingly acute. Then you are learning all the time.
Life is like a river: endlessly moving on, ever seeking, exploring, pushing, overflowing its banks. A mind that has no walls, that is not burdened with its own acquisitions, accumulations, with its own knowledge, a mind that lives timelessly, insecurely, to such a mind, life is an extraordinary thing. Such a mind is life itself.
But most of us want security. We demand permanency and create a culture based on this demand, inventing gods which are not gods at all but merely a projection of our own desires. The efforts of a mind that is seeking a pool of security, of permanency, can only lead to darkness and corruption. Once established in the pool, such a mind is afraid to venture out, to seek, to explore.
EDUCATION AND KNOWLEDGE:
Knowledge is the cultivation of memory, but becomes a hindrance when it has become a tradition which shapes or conditions the mind to a particular pattern, because then it not only divides people and creates enmity between them, but it also prevents the deep discovery of what is truth, what is life.
The function of education is to give the student abundant knowledge in the various fields of human endeavors and at the same time to free his mind from all tradition so that he is able to investigate, to find out, to discover. The difficulty is to free the mind from the known so that it can discover what is new all the time.
(this last paragraph shows why I believe that a comparative religion class should be on every schools agenda. Only by being exposed to all information can anyone make a valid judgment. And for that very reason it will never happen. those with strong religious beliefs cannot tolerate any other view as a valid view and fear their children being exposed to knowledge.)
RELIGION AND GOD:
Religion has nothing to do with priests, churches, dogmas, or organized beliefs. These things are not religion at all, they are merely social conveniences to hold us within a particular pattern of thought and action; they are the means of exploiting our credulity, hope and fear. Religion is the seeking out of what is truth, what is God, and this search requires enormous energy, wide intelligence, subtle thinking. It is in this very seeking of the immeasurable that there is right social action, not in so-called reformation of a particular society.