Education And The Purpose Of Life
Spiritualization of Education Is a Necessity
By D. A. SOMAYAZULU, M. A.
Educationists very often discuss the purpose of education. The tone of their conclusions seems to suggest that education may be broadly divided under two heads, viz., education for life and that for culture. Though spiritual education is often given under the name of philosophy in the collegiate courses, modern educationists do not seem to have realized the necessity of imparting it to every student even in the High Schools.
The Hindus, even in times immemorial, realized the importance thereof so definitely as to say that every branch of knowledge other than the spiritual cannot be considered as culture at all but should be looked upon as non-culture. The beautiful episode of the Upanishads wherein young Bhrigu asks his father to tell him what God is, testifies to the fact that Brahma Vidya, or the knowledge of God, was eagerly sought after, as a matter of course.
The great indifference that is shown toward such an important branch of knowledge reflects badly upon the agnostic spirit of the moderns. Agnosticism presupposes absence of confidence in the propriety of human reason. There may be "many more things in Heaven and on Earth than those that our Philosophies dream of," yet the inquisitive instinct of the human mind not only keeps it always active to dive into the secrets of nature, but also gives it confidence in the realizability thereof. There can be no rationality in the theory that God intends man to remain in the dark, for He has made man occupy the highest rung of the ladder of evolution.
If we start with this optimistic view of life, we have to change our mode of approach to the problem of education. Any form of education which seeks to unfold the latent energies of a human child will be wasteful, and even detrimental, if it does not realize the necessity of equating the purpose of education with that of life.
Has Life A Purpose?
What, then, is the purpose of life? The more we reflect upon problems philosophical, no doubt, the greater is our tendency to grow into agnostics. However baffling this problem may be at first sight, and however much we feel that the answer may be after all a metaphysical speculation, yet it is worthwhile to understand the problem as far as possible, so long as we trust that reason does not deceive us.
The question may be thrown into a different form, namely, "What might be the purpose behind the creative process, and what justification is there for a man to live his life?" Whether a man is serving his own purpose in life or is wanted to serve the purpose of some mysterious hand behind the screen, called Divine, is doubtful. The doubt is especially pertinent if we take up the case of the life of a tree. Save the business of living its life and trying to perpetuate itself, the tree has no other justification to live at all. Therefore, in all probability, it may be that the tree is, after all, serving the purpose of a Creator who wanted to create and hence bestowed upon it the capacity to reproduce itself.
But if man were created merely because he was wanted to reproduce himself thousandfold, certainly man would not do it, without himself reaping something thereby. The answer is dear: man enjoys his existence itself more than he wants anything else. So we may roughly put it like this: "The purpose of life is to enjoy existence and hence one should try to exist as long as possible."
An education which fails to include the study of spiritual principles and universal laws does not really serve man, but instead hinders him n the fulfillment of life's purpose.
At this stage we may verify this by noting that all natural processes of life-energy are designed only to perpetuate the life. The natural healing of a wound, the instinct of self -defense-and a thousand similar facts-testify to the same. Even the code of morality in human beings, which is given a high spiritual value by religious leaders like Buddha, is also an undetected natural process purposed for the safety of the human race. Morality would have been a superfluity if nothing detrimental to the existence of human society happened when it was cast to the winds.
Changeless Energy Total
Here we should note something else. The great expounder of the Bhagavad Gita propounds a grand theory that the totality of lifeenergy is always the same and cannot be reduced even by an iota.
This resembles to some extent the principle of conservation of energy in physics, and seems to be quite an acceptable theory, testified to by intuition though not proved. It says that though the energy apparently vanishes from a certain thing in which it has resided for some time, it will make its appearance somewhere else and has not died away.
If this is a fact, "Existence" can not be deemed as the purpose of life; for it will then become a permanent attribute of life, and need not be sought after.
Evolution is formulated by some as the main biological secret. Lamarck and Darwin from the West and Vyasa from the East stand out as the expounders of this theory. Of these, the latter believes in spiritual evolution, and says that the evolution comes as a matter of course if the moral laws are followed.
Again, this is a point of dispute. Even if evolution is a natural process, it is undoubtedly realized that the rate of evolution is not the same in all forms of life-energy obtained in nature. The great Rishis, who are believed to have realized God, certainly were not of the same plane of evolution as we are.
We feel instinctively that our actions should be dealt proper retribution, good or bad, and must lead us to positions high or low. This concept thus leads to the Karma theory of Hindus. Evolution there~ore seems to be a rational and plausible theory, when it is subject to the principle of Karma. This does not mean fatalism, but only fatalism leaving room to self-agency for an individual to evolve. By the word "evolution" we may roughly understand that it advances with real knowledge - not material knowledge, but that which is essentially spiritual. A man who studies arithmetic only to make use of it in counting his rupees, annas and pice, cannot be said to have achieved culture.
Phases Of Life-Energy
Thus, we have seen how the life-energy has two phases, the phase of eternal existence, otherwise called the Sat, and the phase of Ananda, or Bliss, concomitant with Existence.
In conclusion, there is another phase thereof as conceived by the Hindus, namely, the Chit or the form of consciousness. This is also co-existent with the above two factors, only it is latent in the lowest of creation and increases with evolution. The more we comprehend, the greater is the circle of consciousness; and the greater the circle of vision the more is the Ananda obtained. It is not the mere eating of a mango that gives pleasure, but the consciousness of eating it, just as it is not the mere suffering that makes us miserable, it is the consciousness thereof. A man may be quite all right physically, and yet really suffer from the consciousness that he is going to suffer.
Hence happiness or unhappiness always presumes consciousness, and where consciousness is required to give pleasure alone it has to be supplied with right knowledge. Therefore a correct understanding of the Universe both physically and spiritually must be the right object of education; and a system which ignores the spiritual culture is bound to fail, for it ends in self devastation. Mere material culture, as is now obtained everywhere, is clearly the root cause of all havoc, and it is therefore high time for educational institutions to supplement their system with enough of spiritual culture. In short, the purpose of education must be consonant with the purpose of life, based upon rational understanding of the background of all creative energy. -Kalyana Kalpataru.
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