Copyright © 2012 Isha Foundation
First Edition: May 2012
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In the Presence of the Master series are discourses and answers to an intricate array of questions, by disciples and seekers amidst the challenges of life. Sadhguru - yogi, mystic, visionary and poet - leads us towards a more profound understanding and experience of the most pressing, yet thoroughly confusing issues of human life. In the following discourse, "Inspire your Child," Sadhguru answers probing questions, discussing the state of modern education and the need to inspire a child to reach his or her true potential.
"It would be wonderful if this world was
guided by little children, because they
are closer to life than anybody else."
I have two small children. They are very happy at home, but when they go to school, it becomes a war zone. They have to be equipped to fight a battle everyday.
If children are very unhappy at school, I think we need to examine the teachers, because it is a natural human trait that when you get to know something that you did not know, it brings much joy to you. Learning is a natural human trait; it should make you joyful. If learning is making people miserable, then we have not understood what learning is.
Unfortunately you are not sending your children to school because you want them to know or you want them to learn, but because you want them to earn. that is why you are sending them to school. It is an unfortunate way to handle education. that is not education. You want them enslaved, so the teachers are doing the job for you. You want them enslaved to what you call as economic wellbeing, so the teachers are just doing the job for you. You are not sending your children to school because you want them to develop a thirst for knowing, irrespective of whether they are going to make money or not. So you better change your attitudes about education.
At Isha, we have come up with a school where the whole focus of education is not about suppressive information, but about kindling the thirst for knowledge. If the thirst for knowledge is kindled in the child, you cannot stop him from learning, he is going to learn anyway. But instead of kindling that, you are suppressing it, beating it down with your idea of what education is; because your idea of education is social status and money. This is a wrong way to approach education altogether.
So children, these joyful bursting pieces of life, slowly become sad like this, because you are just disorienting them completely with the kind of compulsions that you have built within yourself. You are trying to put the same compulsions upon the children, which is not necessary.
I find the concept of your
as a way of life for children very difficult, because they have to meet children from different walks of life and different social backgrounds. How does this Inner Engineering, which I would like to give my children at home, withstand the competition, the pressure, the kind of lifestyle that other children have. How can my children go into this?
The pressure is only because you are putting two absolutely unique beings in comparison. Is there one more person exactly like you on this planet? No. There is only one like you. So each being is an absolutely unique being. That is so for your child also. But now you are trying to put them all into the same compartment and compare them with something that they can learn - ABC or 123 or something - and make them feel better or worse about it.
So it is you who brought that competition and comparison, because for most parents it is not about education; it is about first rank. All they want is their children to sit on top of every other child's head. They are not interested in learning, they are not interested in education, they are not interested in career, they are not interested in anything. Their whole effort in their life is how to sit on top of the pile. Isn't it so? Everybody wants to sit on top of the pile. Everybody cannot sit on top of the pile. Only a few will sit. Others will naturally end up at the bottom and get suppressed, isn't it so? Whatever activity, if our focus is just to sit on top of the pile, naturally many others will get suffocated under the pile. This is bound to happen, there is no other way. So that orientation of education has to go. You may think, "No, no, I cannot do anything, the schools are like that." No, schools are just catering to your attitudes. If your attitudes change, the schools will change. They want to run the business the way it works, isn't it? All you want is your child to somehow get 100%. It does not matter what happens to the child. You want your child to get first rank. They are just trying to cater to it because you are paying them. They are just trying to fulfill their job. In the course of your activity, the child is getting ruined,
but it does not matter. Your child is unhappy, it does not matter. You want him to be first rank. This is a sickness which has to go.
True human genius will not flower if this kind of education happens. True human capabilities will not find expression in competition. True human capabilities will find expression only in absolute relaxation. Your mind, your body will work best, will find fullest expression, only when you are joyful and peaceful, and quiet within yourself. When you are trying to race with somebody, you are only thinking of going one step ahead of him, that is all. You are not thinking of what your ultimate potential is. We are just ruining a whole generation of people with the kind of schooling we are providing.
Sadhguru, you mentioned the
Isha Home School
. What is your vision in using education to produce an ideal human being? How do you balance an international standard of education along with spiritual values?
In the Isha Home School there is no spirituality taught. No spirituality at all. We don't want to bring spirituality into a child's life. We teach them some simple forms of yoga for mental and physical health, that is different. But no spirituality will be brought to them as a part of education, never, because spirituality should not be brought about like that. Maybe after they finish their education, if they want to go through a stint of three months or six months of spiritual training, they can. That is by choice. That, anybody can go through.
This school does not try to teach any spirituality. At the same time, we want to cultivate a certain openness in the human being. Somebody becomes or turns successfully spiritual because he has developed a certain openness about life. He has no conclusions about anything. He is willing to look at everything. This is something we cultivate in the child - that the child learns to look at every aspect of life with absolute openness, without prejudice, without any religious, cultural, or any other kind of inclinations. If that happens, whether you talk spirituality to him or you don't, he will anyway turn spiritual. Spirituality will be a natural part of his life, not something that he pursues by going to an ashram or some other place. It will be just a natural part of his life because he has developed a certain openness to every aspect of life; actually education was supposed to be like that right from the beginning. The very purpose of educating people is to broaden their horizons, isn't it? But please look and see, as people are getting educated are they broadening their horizons or are they becoming very narrow?
Just fifty years ago, everywhere in the world people lived in large families; in India there still are such families. Three hundred, four hundred people lived in one house, huge families. There was no big problem, you know? They knew how to adjust with each other and go on, because four hundred people living in one place is a challenge. that is what the ashram is. Now we're back into that old system of being one large family; and this is even more challenging because there are different types of people from different cultures, different languages, different attitudes, different likes and dislikes. Living together like this, without friction, needs enormous maturity and a very broad way of looking at life; otherwise you cannot.
But just see now, as modern education came, slowly we cannot even live with our own parents anymore. We thought just husband, wife, children - this is the family. But now, in the last fifteen to twenty years even that is going away. Family means just you. Your husband has to live in a separate house, you in a separate house, together you will not last ten days. Children have to be there separately. In one place even two, three people cannot live together, isn't it? This is what education has done to you. It has not broadened your horizons. It somewhere made you so narrow and individualistic.
you are no more inclusive, you are becoming very exclusive, isn't it? The inclusion is totally gone. The whole idea of educating a person is that he is just living in a narrow sphere of life - you educate him, make him know about the whole world and broaden his whole perspective of life. Education means inclusion, isn't it? But the kind of education we're imparting to the children is making them so highly exclusive, they cannot even stand one more person in their life. See, most people have gotten themselves into situations where they cannot live with anybody anymore. So that is not just an individual phenomenon; it is the phenomenon of the world. it is a generational phenomenon because of the kind of education that is being imparted. So we want to impart an education which is highly inclusive, so that as you grow, you include the whole world as yourself and live, and that is spirituality. That’s why spirituality is not taught. Education itself is spirituality because education is about broadening your horizons, not about talking about God or some nonsense. We want children to grow up keeping their intelligence intact - not suppressive education - where a child's thirst to know is kindled, but he is not forced to learn.
The longing to know, the longing to learn has to be brushed up within the child, not just feeding him with enormous amount of information and expecting him to pass, pass, pass. Isha Home School is not like that. It has a very different type of structure. At the same time, by the time they are sixteen, seventeen, we will prepare them for any university in the world. They will be ready enough to get into any kind of university, according to their individual capabilities, of course. Apart from that, they are fundamentally learning to live better. They are learning to handle themselves better and live better with themselves and with people around them, which is a very important factor. And people are successful in their life not because they have degrees, not because they have university certificates; it is because they are capable, isn't it? So this school is more capability-oriented, not qualification-oriented. We are seeing how to enhance the capability of the child in whatever area his natural talent is, rather than trying to just make him qualified with a certain certificate attached to him.
Sadhguru, whatever you said about Isha Home School and education just now, it is modern and contemporary, but what about the ancient schools, the
of the past, were they not successful in producing good human beings?
The ancient gurukuls were definitely like this. The ancient gurukul was 100% the way I am talking. The very purpose and the basic function of the guru is to destroy all the things that you have assumed as true. But now the education also involves equipping the person to earn his living and make his living in the world, so we have those twin challenges. At that time the guru was not trying to impart skills for the child to go and survive in the society, because if your father was a cobbler you naturally became a cobbler.
If your father was a king, you became a king; if your father was something else, you became that. You didn't have to be equipped to make a living in some other way in ancient times. The guru was only educating them towards their realization. So the job was, I would say, more simple because it was one-dimensional, but now it is not like that, both things need to happen. We have to equip the child to live in the modern world and still not mess him up with the nonsense that is happening in the name of modernity. So it is a much bigger challenge today than what it was back then.