When we worship knowledge, we do so to equip and endow us with wisdom and awareness so as to move above self. This helps us attain the state of consciousness, of ‘we’ness from the state of ‘I’ness and ‘my’ ness — the ultimate destiny and destination of all knowledge. That is the state of awareness when everything appears similar too and dissimilar too, at times this and at times that, as a Nobel laureate in Physics said when he himself reached the highest peak of knowledge.
It is a state when the subjective gets transformed into the objective, when the matter gets transformed into spirit, when the unit gets transformed into the universe, when a mole gets transformed into the soul. This is a state of what is called dhyana or meditation, when education becomes all-inclusive, comprehensive and indivisible. A stage, when the man shedding his ego becomes human, the humane. Then a man becomes as good as that, a state of tatvamasi (Thou art That), as said in the scriptures. A stage when the division of knowledge into compartments gets obliterated. A stage, when the world becomes only ‘an idea’, to quote the famous philosopher Schopenhauer.
Objective of Learning
The objective of learning by dhyana is also about doing away with all kinds of divisions of learning to lead the learner towards wisdom and awareness, which absolves him of all his limitations to grow to the highest level of gyana and awareness.
When we divide knowledge, which is one into many for the sake of convenience of teaching and learning, we start ab initio with a concept of duality instead of with a concept of unity and that division creates conditions of a mind looking at everything as different and sows the seeds of division. The mankind and society get divided.
Life, which is otherwise one, becomes many grades and shades. Education, which is meant to sow the seeds of unity, sows the seeds of disunity and duality. And once it becomes so divided and fragmented right from the teenage, it becomes very difficult for men to be secular in their lives as it makes them highly individualistic and independent, in the wrong sense.
Let us, therefore, start all our education with meditation in the prayer meetings to integrate and unite as that indeed in the very purpose of education.
But that objective of education can only be understood not by telling or writing about it in so many words but by creating such conditions of calm and quiet as may enable the students to do meditation to reflect and realise that this world is one, the mankind is one, the life is one.
Let us, therefore, convert all our prayer meets of educational institutions (of all schools at least) into meditation meets to make students ponder and reflect that all knowledge is one to help the learners grow together and live together.
Though we are dividing the knowledge into so many disciplines and in the course of it dividing people too into many, it contradicts the very objective of learning.
Seeds of Secularity
Let us, therefore, sow the seeds of secularity and unity from the prayer ground of every educational institution and train our students in the art of concentration and contemplation through meditation by remaining calm and quiet by praying to knowledge itself, whose ultimate objective is to create a sense of unity and democracy.
There is no god or religion involved in meditation. The emphasis is on remaining quiet at least for half an hour (which is the normal prayer time) as silence itself has curative reformative value.
The essence of yoga is in concentration, contemplation and meditation in calm and quiet conditions. While Yoga is an exercise to keep the body healthy, meditation is an exercise for the health of the body and mind. It is a physical exercise to inculcate a sense of unity and secularity.
Education by concentration contemplation and meditation should be the very first step in learning which, at present, is totally neglected, making our education merely professional, skill-oriented and mechanical.
Spell of Silence
The short spell of silence would go a long way in making the students think of the secular purpose of education essentially meant to make them not only professionally good but also disciplined, honest, responsible, duty-minded and societally-oriented. It will make our education more realistic and practical — a Gandhian concept of education.
As students do not prefer behaviour values to be taught straightaway, a scope to know about them can be created through ‘meditation time’ beginning in the first period by extending it for half an hour in the presence of the teacher. If meditation time is provided in a congregation, it would not be congenial and conducive as it won’t be possible to maintain the calm needed. This is because students of each stage of education require a different way of dealing and handling it to come to grips with it.
Meditating without a reference point will be difficult, particularly at a very young age. Hence, passages from sacred books of one’s own religion, or from great books or speeches can be selected and given in advance so that students can come prepared to reflect and meditate on them.
Questions should be framed in exams on the material given to read and meditate, treating meditation as a subject pertaining to ‘personality development’. Along with this if a general knowledge subject is also prescribed and examination is held for it from KG to PG, our education system will become balanced. This will make our students not only good professionals but also enlightened citizens.
(The author is former Director, Telugu Academy)