yoga meditation and philosophy with Lynn
The Yoga Philosophy of Education
(In preparation for the Youth / Family Retreat, July 2-6/03)
“If education is not designed to give the child a philosophy of life, then all the information pilled up in his brain is useless.”
Now when we talk of experiential base for life, we do not mean exposing the child to all sorts of random external experiences. Naturally the child has to learn, and the child has to be taken to the zoo, and has to be introduced to a bank. … But … what is missing in the system of education is a human being taught to look at himself or herself without reference to the objective world.
A child discovers that turning the other cheek is not an act of cowardice because he gains strength to do so, he remains unflinching when his one cheek is attacked – and he stands there, and he does not run, and he does not cry. And he can learn also, at the same time, that that child who has made the attack has done so out of some emptiness of the spirit. If we can introduce such a philosophy in the child, we would find that the child is a person of greater courage because he acts from the center of his being. And slowly in his presence, the incidents of violence will subside, will be less from other children – especially those in the same class, in the same school, in the same environment.”
This type of theme in life [i.e. having courage and emotional strength in the face of adversity], introduced in stories, I think will be of great help. So that, biographies of great men and women, biographies of great saints of all nations, all cultures will be introduced. Many stories written on the basis of lives of great men and women from the world literature will be introduced.
If we are to think in terms of the goals that the world organizations like UNESCO have, then the approach would be intercultural: that you get schoolbooks from all different parts of the world – from Thailand or Columbia or Taiwan or Japan or India, and see what they have done. What sort of experiments they have made? For example, there was a great problem in India with a multi-religious society. . . . How did this solve the cultural problem? How? In the child’s schoolbook right from the very beginning you have the life story of Muhammed, the life story of Christ, the life story of the Buddha, and the life story of Rama or Krishna. So that, a child grows up to be a world citizen.”
“My father taught me meditation, and I sat with him for one hour of meditation at the age of four and a half. So he taught me the ways of using the mind. What is happening in the education system today is that children are made to cram, do rote learning. They are not taught to use the mind for the purpose of learning. We have certain methods in meditation by which one can look at something once and know it. It is very relaxed kind of concentration. We call it a practice known as Yoga Nidra. A conscious rest. Resting all the rest of the mind, and only that portion that is required, for that particular intent, for that particular intention.”
The yoga philosophy of education, like any sensible philosophy of education, does not separate education from life or from relationships. It also does not set a specific time when education begins. The education of a child begins with the child’s parents. In strict yoga theory the education of a child begins three years before conception. Therefore it is the parents who educate themselves in order to educate the child. It is they who determine what sort of a soul is going to borrow a little fraction of their bodies to create for itself a body. Whatever type of magnet the parents are, that kind of a soul they attract, because a family is a karma pool. There is no other definition of the family. So the child’s education begins with the parents’ own choice of their own karma, which is mental, vocal, physical, personal, spiritual, social, emotional, and so on in all its aspects. …
But here let us say that it is not a child’s age that determines her or his capacity to learn. One of the most basic principles in yoga psychology is that even if a person’s physical brain is not fully developed to the size of a five-year-old when the child is five years or four years, there is something that is beyond brain — and that is mind. That it is possible for the mind to function – and not in all areas but in some areas – it is possible for the mind to function without the brain. I am sure that most physiologists and psychophysiologists will violently disagree with me, but I have no doubt, absolutely no doubt, that it is not always the size of the brain, the capacity of the brain, that determines the capacity of the mind. In fact, it is the capacity of the mind that determines the capacity of the brain! That it is the subtle body that determines the gross body. That it is the state of the awakening of the energy-currents in man that determines his physical vitality, which includes the vitality of his brain. So that putting a four-year old child or a five-year old child in a specific grade, in itself, is a wrong approach. It should be the average of the person’s mind or intelligence, and not the average of a person’s body age, that should determine which grade he goes into.