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Chapter 36 - Action based on reward and punishment brings about conflict

Chapter 36 - Action based on reward and punishment brings about conflict

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The Whole Movement of Life is Learning

In all these letters we have been constantly pointing out that co-operation between the educator and the student is the responsibility of both. The word co-operation implies working together, but we cannot work together if we are not looking in the same direction with the same eyes and the same mind. The word same, as we are using it, under no circumstances implies uniformity, conformity or accepting, obeying, imitating. In co-operation with each other, working together, the student and the teacher must have a relationship which is essentially based on affection. Most people co-operate if they are building, if they are playing games, or are involved in scientific research, or if they are working together for an ideal, a belief, or for some concept which is carried out for some personal or collective benefit. Or they co-operate around a religious or political authority.

To study, learn, and act, co-operation is necessary between the teacher and the student. Both are involved. The educator may know many subjects and facts, but conveying them to the student becomes a struggle between the two if there is not the quality of affection,. We are concerned not only with knowledge of the world but also with the study of oneself, in which learning and action are involved. Both the educator and the student are involved in this, and here authority ceases. To learn about himself, the educator is concerned not only with himself but with the student. In this interaction with its reactions, one begins to see the nature of oneself-the thoughts, the desires, the attachments, the identifications, and so on. Each is acting as a mirror to the other; each is observing in the mirror exactly what he is, because, as we pointed out earlier, the psychological understanding of oneself is far more important than gathering facts and storing them up as knowledge for skill in action. The inner always overcomes the outer. This must be clearly understood both by the educator and by the student. The outer has not changed man; the outer activities-physical revolution, physical control of the environment-have not deeply changed the human being, his prejudices and superstitions. Deeply, human beings remain as they have been for thousands of years. right education is to transform this basic condition. When this is really grasped by the educator, though he may have subjects to teach, his main concern must be with the radical revolution in the psyche, in the "you" and the "me".

And here comes in the importance of co-operation between the two who are studying, learning and acting together. It is not the spirit of a team, or the spirit of a family, or identification with a group or nation. It is free inquiry into ourselves, without the barrier of the one who knows and the one who doesn't. This is the most destructive barrier, especially in matters of self-knowing. There is no leader and no led in this matter. When this is fully grasped, and with affection, then communication between the student and the teacher becomes easy, clear and is not at a merely verbal level. Affection carries no pressure; it is never devious. It is direct and simple.

Having said all this, and if both of you have studied what has been said, what is the quality of your mind and heart? Is there a change that is not induced by influence or by mere stimulation which may give an illusion of change? Stimulation is like a drug; it wears off and you are back where you were. Any form of pressure or influence also acts in the same way. If you act under these circumstances, you are not actually studying and learning about yourself. Action based on reward and punishment, influence or pressure, inevitably brings about conflict. This is so, but few people see the truth of this, and so they give up, or say it is impossible in a practical world, or that it is idealistic, some utopian concept. But it is not. It is eminently practical and workable. So do not be put off by the traditionalists, the conservatives, or those who cling to the illusion that change can come only from without.

When you study and learn about yourself, there comes an extraordinary strength, based on clarity, which can withstand all the nonsense of the establishment. This strength is not a form of resistance or self-centred obstinacy or will, but is a diligent observation of the outer and the inner. It is the strength of affection and intelligence.