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Chapter 42 - Is life a movement of pain with occasional happiness?
The future for every human being, the young and the old, appears to be bleak and frightening. Society itself has become dangerous and utterly immoral. When a young person faces the world, he is rather frightened of what will happen to him in the course of his life. His parents send him to school and, if they have money, to university, and they are concerned that he should settle down to a job, marry, have children and so on. In families in the Eastern world the parents play a strong part in their children's lives. The family unit is still there, and though the young may earn livelihoods in different parts of the world, the family is the centre of their lives. This is fast disappearing in the Western world. In many parts of the world parents have very little time for their own children. A few years after the children are born the parents have lost them; they have very little relationship with their children. They worry about their own problems, ambitions and so on, and the children are at the mercy of educators, who themselves need education. The educators may be excellent at academics and are in turn concerned that their students should achieve the highest academic grades and that the school should have the best reputation. But educators have their own problems. Their salaries, except in a few countries, are rather low, and socially they are not highly regarded.
Those who are being educated have rather a difficult time with their parents, their educators and their fellow students. Already the tide of struggle, of anxiety, fear and competition has swept in. They have to face a world that is overpopulated, with under-nourished people, a world of war, increasing terrorism, inefficient governments, corruption and the threat of poverty. This threat is less evident in affluent and fairly well- organized societies, but it is felt in those parts of the world where there is tremendous poverty, overpopulation and the indifference of inefficient rulers. This is the world the young people have to face, and naturally they are really frightened. They have an idea that they should be free, independent of routine, should not be dominated by their elders; and they shy away from all authority. Freedom to them means to choose what they want to do; but they are confused, uncertain and want to be shown what they should do. The student is caught between his own desire for freedom to do what he wants and society's demands for conformity to its own necessities-that people become engineers, scientists, soldiers, or specialists of some kind. This is the world students have to face and become a part of through their education. It is a frightening world. We all want security physically as well as emotionally, and having this is becoming more and more difficult and painful.
So we of the older generation, if we at all care for our children, must ask what education is? If education as it now is universally is to prepare the children to live in perpetual striving, conflict and fear, we must ask what the meaning of it all is. Is life a movement, a flow of pain and anxiety and the shedding of unshed tears, with occasional flares of joy and happiness? Unfortunately we, the older generation, do not ask these questions, and neither does the educator. So education, as it is now, is a process of facing a dreary, narrow and meaningless existence. But we want to give a meaning to life. Life appears to have no meaning in itself, but we want to give it meaning so we invent gods, various forms of religion and other entertainments, including nationalism and ways to kill each other, in order to escape from our monotonous life. This is the life of the older generation and will be the life of the young.
We the parents and educators have to face this fact and not escape into theories, seeking further forms of education and structures. If our minds are not clear about what we are facing, we shall inevitably, consciously or unconsciously, slip into the inaction of wondering what to do about it. There are a thousand people who will tell us what to do-the specialists and the cranks. Before we understand the vast complexity of the problem, we want to operate upon it. We are more concerned to act than to see the whole issue.
The real issue is the quality of our mind-not its knowledge, but the depth of the mind that meets knowledge. Mind is infinite, is the nature of the universe, which has its own order, has its own immense energy. It is everlastingly free. The brain, as it is now, is the slave of knowledge and so is limited, finite, fragmentary. When the brain frees itself from its conditioning, then the brain is infinite. Then only is there no division between the mind and the brain. Education then is freedom from conditioning, from the vast accumulated knowledge of tradition. This does not deny the value of academic disciplines, which have their own proper place in life.