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Chapter 33 - You have to be good because you are the future
We ought to understand right from the beginning of this new year that we are primarily concerned with the psychological aspect of our life, though we are not going to neglect the physical, biological side. What one is inwardly will eventually bring about a good society or the gradual deterioration of human relationship. We are concerned with both aspects of life, not giving one or the other predominance, although the psychological-that is what we are inwardly-will dictate our behaviour, our relationship with others.
We seem to neglect wholly the deeper and wider realities of life, and give far greater importance to physical aspects, to everyday activities, however relevant or irrelevant. So please bear in mind that in these letters we are approaching our existence from the inner to the outer, not the other way round. Though most people are concerned with the outer, our education must be concerned with bringing about a harmony between the outer and inner; this cannot possibly come about if our eyes are fixed only on the outer.
We mean by the inner all the movement of thought, our feelings both reasonable and unreasonable, our imaginings, our beliefs, our happy and unhappy attachments, our secret desires with their contradictions, our experiences, suspicions, violence, and so on. The hidden ambitions, the illusions that the mind clings to, the superstitions of religion, and the seemingly everlasting conflict within ourselves are also part of our psychological structure. If we are blind to these, or accept them as an inevitable part of our human nature, we will allow a society in which we ourselves become prisoners. So this is really important to understand.
Surely every student throughout the world sees the effect of the chaos around us, and hopes to escape into some kind of outward order, even though in himself he may be in utter turmoil. He wants to change the outer without changing himself, but he is the source and continuation of the disorder. This is a fact, not a personal conclusion. So, we are concerned in our education with changing the source of the disorder and its continuation. It is human beings who create society, not some gods in some heaven.
So we begin with the student. The very word implies studying, learning and acting. Basic education is to learn not only from books and teachers, but to study and learn about yourself. If you don't know about yourself, and are filling your mind with the facts of the universe, you are merely accepting and continuing the disorder. Probably as a student you are not interested in this. You want to enjoy yourself, pursue your own interests. You are forced to study, and do so only under pressure, accepting the inevitable comparisons and results with an eye fixed on some kind of career. This is your basic interest, which seems natural, because your parents and grandparents have followed the same path-job, marriage, children, responsibility. As long as you are safe, you care little for what is happening around you. This is your actual relationship to the world, the world human beings have created. The immediate is far more real, important and demanding for you than the whole.
But your concern and the educator's concern is and must be to understand the whole of human existence; not a part but the whole. The part is only the knowledge of human physical discoveries. So, here in these letters we begin primarily with you, the student, and the educator who is helping you to know yourself. This is the function of all education. We need to bring about a good society in which all human beings can live happily in peace, without violence, with security. You as a student are responsible for this. A good society doesn't come into existence through some ideal, a hero or a leader, or some carefully planned system. You have to be good because you are the future. You will make the world, either as it is, modified, or as a world in which you and others can live without wars, without brutalities, with generosity and affection.
So what will you do? You have understood the problem, which is not difficult, so what will you do? Most of you are instinctively kind, good and wanting to help, unless of course you have been too trodden down and twisted, which one hopes you are not. So what will you do? If the educator is worth his salt, he will want to help you. Then the question is: what will you do together to help you to study yourself, to learn about yourself and act? We will stop here with this letter and go on in our next.