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Chapter 4 - Goodness cannot flower in the field of fear
It appears that most people spend a great deal of time discussing mere verbal clarity; they do not seem to grasp the depth and content beyond the word. In trying to search out verbal clarity, they make their minds mechanical, their lives superficial and very often contradictory. In these letters we are concerned not with verbal understanding, but with the daily facts of our lives. This is the central fact of all these letters- not the verbal explanation of the fact but the fact itself. When we are concerned with verbal clarity and so clarity of ideas, our daily life is conceptual and not factual. All the theories, the principles, the ideals are conceptual. Concepts can be dishonest, hypocritical and illusory. One can have any number of concepts or ideals, but those have nothing whatsoever to do with the daily happenings of our life. People are nurtured on ideals; the more fanciful they are, the more they are considered noble; but the understanding of daily events is far more important than ideals. If one's mind is cluttered with concepts, ideals and so on, the fact, the actual happening can never be faced. The concept becomes a block. When all this is very clearly understood-not intellectually or conceptually-the great importance of facing a fact, the actual, the now, becomes the central factor of our education.
Politics is some kind of universal disease based on concepts; and religion is romantic, imaginary emotionalism. When you observe what is actually going on, all this is an indication of conceptual thinking and an avoidance of the daily misery, confusion and sorrow of our life.
Goodness cannot flower in the field of fear. In this field there are many varieties, the immediate fears and the fears of many tomorrows. Fear is not a concept, but the explanations of fear are conceptual and vary from one pundit to another or from one intellectual to another. The explanation is not important; what is important is facing the fact of fear.
In all our schools the educator and those responsible for the students, whether in the classroom, on the playing field or in their rooms, have the responsibility to see that fear in any form does not arise. The educator must not arouse fear in the student. This is not conceptual, because the educator himself understands, not only verbally, that fear in any form cripples the mind, destroys sensitivity, shrinks the senses. Fear is the heavy burden which man has always carried. From this fear arise various forms of superstition-religious, scientific and imaginary. One lives in a make-believe world, and the essence of the conceptual world is born of fear. We said previously that man cannot live without relationship, and this relationship is not only his own private life but, if he is an educator, he has a direct relationship with the student. If there is any kind of fear in this, then the teacher cannot possibly help the student to be free of it. The student comes from a background of fear, of authority, of all kinds of fanciful and actual impressions and pressures. The educator too has his own pressures, fears. He will not be able to bring about understanding of the nature of fear if he has not uncovered the root of his own fears. It is not that he must first be free of his own fears in order to help the student to be free, but rather that in their daily relationship, in conversation, in class, the teacher will point out that he himself is afraid, as the student is too, and so together they can explore the whole nature and structure of fear.
It must be pointed out that this is not a confessional on the part of the teacher. He is just stating a fact without any emotional, personal emphasis. It is like having a conversation between good friends; it requires a certain honesty and humility. Humility is not servility. Humility is not a sense of defeatism; humility knows neither arrogance nor pride. So the teacher has a tremendous responsibility.
Teaching is the greatest of all professions. The teacher is to bring about a new generation in the world, which is a fact not a concept. You can make a concept of a fact, and so get lost in concepts, but the actual always remains. Facing the actual, the now, and the fear, is the highest function of the educator; not only to bring about academic excellence but also, what is far more important, the psychological freedom of the student and himself.
When the nature of freedom is understood, then you eliminate all competition on the playing field and in the classroom. Is it possible to eliminate academic or ethical comparative evaluation altogether? Is it possible to help the student not to think competitively in the academic field and yet to have excellence in his studies, his actions and his daily life? Please bear in mind that we are concerned with the flowering of goodness, which cannot possibly be where there is any competition. Competition exists when there is comparison, and comparison does not bring about excellence. These schools fundamentally exist to help both the student and the teacher to flower in goodness. This demands excellence in behaviour, in action and in relationship. This is our intent; this is why these schools have come into being; not to turn out mere careerists but to bring about excellence of spirit.