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Chapter 11 - Imitation corrupts the mind
As we have already pointed out several times in these letters, the schools exist primarily to bring about a profound transformation in human beings. The educator is wholly responsible for this. Unless the teacher realizes this central factor, he will be merely instructing the student to become a businessman, an engineer, a lawyer, or a politician. There are so many of these who seem to be incapable of transforming either themselves or their society. Perhaps in the present structure of society lawyers and businessmen may be necessary, but when these schools came into being the intention was, and remains, to transform humanity profoundly. The teachers in these schools should really understand this, not intellectually, not as an idea, but because they see the full implications of this with their whole being. We are concerned with the total development of a human being, not merely with accumulating knowledge.
Ideas and ideals are one thing, and fact, the actual happening, is another. The two can never come together. Ideals have been imposed upon facts and twist what is happening to conform to what should be, the ideal. The utopia is a conclusion drawn from what is happening, and sacrifices the actual to conform to that which has been idealized. This has been the process for millennia, and every student and all the intellectuals revel in ideations. The avoidance of what is, is the beginning of the corruption of the mind. This corruption pervades all religions, politics and education, all human relationship. The understanding of this process of avoidance and going beyond it is our concern.
Ideals corrupt the mind; they are born of ideas, judgements and hope. Ideas are abstractions from what is, and any idea or conclusion about what is actually happening distorts what is happening, and so corruption takes place. It takes attention away from the fact, from what is, and so directs attention to the fanciful. This movement away from the fact makes for symbols, images, which then take on all- consuming importance. This movement away from the fact is corruption of the mind. Human beings indulge in this movement in conversation, in their relationships, in almost everything they do. The fact is instantly translated into an idea or a conclusion, which then dictates our reactions. When something is seen, thought immediately makes a counterpart and that becomes the real. You see a dog, and instantly thought turns to whatever image you may have about dogs, and so you never see the dog.
Can the students be taught to remain with the fact, the actual happening now, whether it is psychologically or externally? Knowledge is not the fact; it is about the fact, and that has its proper place, but knowledge prevents perception of what actually is. Then corruption takes place. This is really very important to understand. Ideals are considered noble, exalted, of great purposeful significance, and what is actually happening is considered merely sensory, worldly and of lesser value. Schools the world over have some exalted purpose, ideal; so they are educating the students in corruption.
What corrupts the mind? We are using the word mind to imply the senses, the capacity to think, and the brain that stores all memories and experiences as knowledge. This total movement is the mind. The conscious as well as the unconscious, the so-called super-consciousness, the whole of this is the mind. We are asking what the factors, the seeds of corruption are in all this. We said ideals corrupt. Knowledge also corrupts the mind. Knowledge, particular or extensive, is the movement of the past, and when the past overshadows the actual, corruption takes place. Knowledge, projected into the future and directing what is happening now, is corruption. We are using the word corruption to mean that which is being broken up, that which is not taken as a whole. The fact can never be broken up; the fact can never be limited by knowledge. The completeness of the fact opens the door to infinity. Completeness cannot be divided; it is not self-contradictory; it cannot divide itself. Completeness, wholeness, is infinite movement.
Imitation, conformity, is one of the great factors of corruption of the mind. The example-the hero, the saviour, the guru-is the most destructive factor of corruption. To follow, to obey, to conform, denies freedom. Freedom is from the beginning, not at the end. It is not to conform, to imitate, accept first, and then eventually find freedom. That is the spirit of totalitarianism; that is the cruelty, the ruthlessness of the dictator, of the authority, of the guru or of the priest.
So authority is corruption. Authority is the breaking up of integrity, the whole, the complete, whether it is the authority of a teacher in a school or the authority of an institution or the authority of a purpose, of an ideal, of the one who says 'I know'. The pressure of authority in any form is the distorting factor of corruption. Authority basically denies freedom. It is the function of a true teacher to instruct, point out, inform, without the corrupting influence of authority.
The authority of comparison destroys. When one student is compared with another, both are being hurt. To live without comparison is to have integrity. Will you, the teacher, do this?