PHILOSOPHY OF EDUCATION
Education is the manifestation of the perfection already in man.1
Knowing is unveiling.
Knowledge is inherent in man, no knowledge comes from outside; it is all inside. What we say a man ‘ knows ‘, should, in strict psychological language, be what he ‘ discovers ‘ or ‘ unveils What a man ‘ learns ‘ is really what he ‘ discovers ‘ by taking the cover oil his own soul, which is a mine of infinite knowledge. We say Newton discovered gravitation. Was it sitting anywhere in a corner waiting for him ? It was in his own mind; the time came and he found it out. All knowledge that the world has ever received comes from the mind; the infinite library of the universe is in your own mind. The external world is only the suggestion, the occasion, which sets you to study your own mind. The falling of an apple gave the suggestion to Newton, and he studied his own mind. He rearranged all the previous links of thought in his mind and discovered a new link among them, which we call the
law of gravitation. It was not in the apple nor in anything in the centre of the earth.2
All Knowledge is within
All knowledge therefore, secular or spiritual, is in the human mind. In many cases it is not discovered, but remains covered, and when the covering is being slowly taken off, we say ‘ we are learning ‘, and the advance of knowledge is made by this process of uncovering. The man from whom this veil is being lifted is the more knowing man; the man upon whom it lies thick is ignorant; the man from whom it has entirely gone is all-knowing, omniscient. Like fire in a piece of flint, knowledge exists in the mind; suggestion is the friction which brings it out.3 All knowledge and all power are within. What we call powers, secrets of Nature, and force are all within. All knowledge comes from the human soul. Man manifests knowledge, discovers it within himself, which is pre-existing, through eternity.4
Infinite power is in the soul
No one was ever really taught by another. Each of us has to teach himself. The external teacher offers only the suggestion which rouses the internal teacher to work to understand things. Then things will be made clearer to us by our own power of perception and thought, and we shall
realise them in our own souls. The whole of the big banyan tree which covers acres of ground was in the little seed which was perhaps no bigger than one-eighth of a mustard seed. All that mass of energy was there confined. The gigantic intellect, we know, lies coiled up in the protoplasmic cell. It may seem like a paradox, but it is true. Each one of us has come out of one protoplasmic cell and all the powers we possess were coiled up there. You cannot say they came from food, for if you heap up food mountains high, what power comes out of it ? The energy was there potentially no doubt, but still there. So is infinite power m the soul of man whether he knows it or not. Its manifestation is only a question of being conscious of it.® .
The cask of glass
The Light Divine within is obscured in most people. It is like a lamp in a cask of iron: no gleam of light can shine through. Gradually, by purity and unselfishness, we can make the obscuring medium less and less dense, until at last it becomes as transparent as glass. Sri Ramakrishna was like the iron cask transformed into a glass cask, through which can be seen the inner light as it is.7
You cannot teach a child any more than you can grow a plant. The plant develops its own nature.8 The child also teaches itself. But you can help it to go forward in its own way. What you can do is not of a positive nature but negative. You can take away the obstacles, and knowledge comes out of its own naure. Loosen the soil a little, so that it may come out easily. Put a hedge round it; see that it is not killed by anything.9 You can supply the growing seed with the materials for the making up of its body, bringing to it the earth, the water, the air that it wants. And there your work stops. It will take all that it wants by its own nature.10 So with the education of the child. A child educates itself.11 The teacher spoils everything by thinking that he is teaching. Within man is all knowledge, and it requires only an awakening, and that much is the work of the teacher. We have only to do so much for the boys that they may learn to apply their own intellect to the proper use of their hands, legs, ears and eyes.12
That system which aims at educating our boys in the same manner as that of the man who battered his ass, being advised that it could thereby be turned into a horse, should be abolished.13 Owing to undue domination exercised by the parents, our boys
do not get free scope for growth. In every one there are infinite tendencies which require proper scope for satisfaction.14 Violent attempts at reform always end by retarding reform. If you do not allow one to become a lion, one will become a fox.15
We should give positive ideas. Negative thoughts only weaken men. Do you not find that
where parents are constantly taxing their sons to read and write,
telling them that they will never learn anything and calling them fools and so forth,the latter do actually turn out to be so in many
cases ? If you speak kind words to them and encourage them, they are bound to improve in time. If you can give them positive ideas, people will grow up to be men and learn to stand on their own legs. In language and literature, in poetry and arts, in everything we must point out not the mistakes that people are making in their thoughts and actions, but the way in which they will be able to do these things better.16 The teaching must be modified according to the needs of the taught. Past lives have moulded our tendencies, and so give to the pupil according to his tendencies. Take every one where he stands and push him forward.17 We have seen how Sri Ramakrishna would encourage even those whom we considered worthless and change the very course of their lives thereby! He never destroyed a single man’s special inclinations. He gave words of hope and encouragement even to the most degraded of persons and lifted them up.
Service as worship.
Liberty is the first condition of growth. It is wrong, a thousand times wrong, if any of you
dares to say, ‘I will work out the salvation of this woman or child.’ Hands off! They will solve their
own problems. Who are you to assume that you know everything ? How dare you think that you have the right over God? For, don’t you know that every soul is the Soul of God ? Look upon every one as God. You can only serve. Serve the children of the Lord if you have the privilege. If the Lord grants that you can help any one of His children, blessed you are. Blessed you are that that privilege was given to you when others had it not. Do it only as worship.18
Assimilation of ideas.
Education is not the amount of information that is put into your brain and runs riot there,
undigested all your life. We must have life-building, man-making, character-making, assimilation of
ideas. If you have assimilated five ideas and made them your life and character, you have more education than any man who has got by heart a whole library. If education were identical with information, the libraries would be the greatest sages in the world and encyclopaedias the Rishis.1*
Getting by heart the thoughts of others in a foreign language and stuffing your brain with them
and taking some university degrees, you consider yourself educated. Is this education ? What is the
goal of your education ? Either a clerkship, or being a lawyer, or at the most a Deputy Magistrate, which is another form of clerkship – isn’t that all ? What good will it do you or the country at large ? Open your eyes and see what a piteous cry for food is rising in the land of Bharata, proverbial for its food. Will your education fulfil this want ?30 The education that does not help the common mass of people to equip themselves for the struggle for life, which does not bring out strength of character, a spirit of philanthropy and the courage of a lion – is it worth the name ? 21
The needed education.
We want that education by which character is formed, strength of mind is increased, the
intellect is expanded and by which one can stand on one’s own feet.22 What we need is to study,
independent of foreign control, different branches of
the knowledge that is our own, and with it the English language and western science; we need technical education and all else that will develop industries, so that men instead of seeking for service may earn enough to provide for themselves and save against a rainy day.23
The goal of man-making
The end of all education, all training, should be man-making. The end and aim of all training is to make the man grow.24 The man-making. training by which the current and expression of will are brought under control and become fruitful, is called education.25 What our country now wants are muscles of iron and nerves of steel, gigantic wills which nothing can resist, which can penetrate into the mysteries and secrets of the universe and will accomplish their purpose in any fashion, even if it meant going down to the bottom of the ocean, meeting death face to face.26 It is man-making religion that we want. It is man-making theories that we want. It is man-making education all round that we want.27