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Chapter 3 - Only in leisure can the mind learn

Chapter 3 - Only in leisure can the mind learn

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The Whole Movement of Life is Learning

Relationship with another human being is one of the most important things in life. Most of us are not very serious in our relationships, for we are concerned with ourselves first and the other person when it is convenient, satisfying, or sensually gratifying. We treat relationship from a distance, as it were, and not as something in which we are totally involved. We hardly ever show ourselves to another, for we are not fully aware of ourselves, and what we show to another in relationship is either possessive, dominating or subservient. There is the other and me, two separate entities sustaining a lasting division, each one concerned with himself or herself, and so this division is maintained throughout life until death comes. Of course one shows sympathy, affection, general encouragement, but the divisive process goes on. From this arises incompatibility, the assertion of temperaments and desires, and so there is fear and placation. Sexually there may be coming together, but the peculiar, almost static, relationship of the "you" and the "me" is sustained, with quarrels, hurts, jealousies and all the usual travail. All this is generally considered good relationship.

Now, can goodness flower in all this?

Relationship is life; without some kind of relationship one cannot exist. The hermit, the monk, however they may withdraw from the world, carry the world with them. They may deny it; they may suppress it, they may torture themselves, but they still remain in some kind of relation with the world, for they are the result of thousands of years of tradition, superstition and all the knowledge that man has gathered through millennia. So there is no escape from it all.

There is a relationship between the educator and the student. Does the teacher maintain, whether knowingly or unknowingly, a sense of superiority, always standing on a pedestal, making the student feel inferior, the one who has to be taught? Obviously in this there is no relationship. From this arises fear on the part of the student, a sense of pressure and strain, and therefore the student learns, from his youth, about this quality of superiority. He is made to feel belittled, and so throughout life he either becomes the aggressor or is continuously yielding and subservient.

A school is a place of leisure, where the educator and the one to be educated are both learning. This is the central fact of the school-to learn. We do not mean by leisure having time to oneself, though that is also necessary. It does not mean taking a book and sitting under a tree or in your bedroom, reading casually. It does not mean having a placid state of mind, and it certainly does not mean being idle or using time for daydreaming. Leisure means having a mind that is not constantly occupied with something, with a problem, with some enjoyment, with some sensory pleasure. Leisure implies that a mind has infinite time to observe what is happening around oneself and within oneself, to listen, to see clearly. Leisure implies freedom, which is generally translated as doing as one desires, which is what human beings are doing anyway, causing a great deal of mischief, misery and confusion. Leisure is having a quiet mind, with no motive and so no direction. It is only in this state of leisure that the mind can learn, not only science, history, mathematics but also about oneself. And one can learn about oneself in relationship.

Can all this be taught in our schools, or is it something you read about and either memorize or forget? When the teacher and the taught are involved in really understanding the extraordinary importance of relationship, then they are establishing in the school a right relationship among themselves. This is part of education, greater than merely teaching academic subjects.

Relationship requires a great deal of intelligence. It cannot be bought in a book or be taught. It is not the accumulated result of great experience. Knowledge is not intelligence. Knowledge can be clever, bright and utilitarian, but that is not intelligence. Intelligence can use knowledge. Intelligence comes naturally and easily when the whole nature and structure of relationship is seen. That is why it is important to have leisure so that the man or the woman, the teacher or the student can quietly and seriously talk over their relationship, so that their actual reactions, susceptibilities, and barriers are seen, not imagined, not twisted to please each other or suppressed in order to placate the other.

Surely this is the function of a school: to help the student to awaken his intelligence and to learn the great importance of right relationship.