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Chapter 46 - Without the centre as a self, there is extraordinary strength and beauty
It appears that very few teachers are aware of their great responsibility not only to the parents, but also in their relationship to the students. What is this relationship? How does one regard this relationship? Is it communication of information? Is it the verbal statement of certain facts? Is the relationship superficial, casual and passing? Is the teacher an example? Am I as a teacher an influence? If I am an example that some of my students should follow, then I become a tyrant; then discipline becomes conformity. They imitate me, my ways, my gestures and so on. But I do not want them to follow me or be influenced by me. I want them to understand how all of us are influenced, moulded to conform to a pattern. My perception, my intention is to help my students to be free of every kind of influence, good or bad, so that they see for themselves what right action is; not be told what right action is, but to have the capacity and drive to see the false and the true. That is, my concern is primarily to cultivate their intelligence so that they can meet life with all its complexities intelligently. I see this not as a goal but as an immediate reality. I know they are influenced by their parents, by their fellow students and by the world around them. Young people are easily influenced. They may rebel against it but consciously or unconsciously there is pressure and the strain of this pressure. So I ask myself as a teacher, and as a human being, in what manner I can bring about the character and energy of intelligence.
I begin to see that I must be both introvert and extrovert in the world of action, and inwardly; not be self-centred but turn my eyes and my hearing to the subtleties of life. That is, I must be able to protect and at the same time cultivate generosity, be both the receiver and the giver. I feel all this if I am a really dedicated teacher in the true sense of that word. To me it is not a profession; it is something that has to be done. So I become very much more aware of the world, what is happening there, and inwardly comprehend the necessity to go beyond and above selfcentred interest. I see this as a whole movement, the outward and the inward, indivisible like the waters of the sea that come in and go out. Now, how am I to help the student to be aware of this?
Sensitivity implies being vulnerable. One is sensitive to one's reactions, to one's hurts, one's beleaguered existence. That is, one is sensitive about oneself, and in this vulnerable state there is really self-interest and therefore the capability of being hurt, of becoming neurotic. It is a form of resistance, which is essentially concentrated in the self. The strength of vulnerability is not selfcentred. It is like the young spring leaf that can withstand strong winds and flourish. This vulnerability is incapable of being hurt whatever the circumstances. vulnerability is without a centre as the self. It has an extraordinary strength, vitality and beauty.
As a human being, in myself and as a teacher I see all this as clearly as possible. But as a teacher I am not all this. I am studying this, learning. As a teacher I am in relationship with my students, and in that relationship I am learning. In what manner am I to convey all this to my students who are conditioned, thoughtless, full of play, mischievous, as normal children are? I teach subjects and am wondering if I can convey all this through mathematics, biology, physics. Or are they separate, something to be memorized? I see that the intelligence is not from the cultivation of memory. So I have this problem: on the one hand I see the need for the cultivation of memory to pass examinations and ultimately for an occupation, and on the other hand I have a glimmer that intelligence is not mechanical, is not the cultivation of memory. This is my problem. I am asking myself if these two are separate, or if intelligence, if it is awakened from the very beginning of one's life, can include memory and not be a slave to it. The greater includes the lesser. The universe contains the particular. But the particular can only remain in its own narrow sphere.
I am beginning to comprehend this important factor, for I am a dedicated teacher who is using teaching as a stepping stone to something else. So I am wondering what to do with these children in front of me. They are not interested in all this. They bully each other, compete with each other; they are envious, and so on. Now, if you are not in the school, do you understand my problem? You have to, because you are also a teacher in your own way-at home, on the playing fields, or in business. We are all teachers in some way or other, so don't just leave me with my problem. It is your problem too, so let us talk about it.
We both see, I hope, that we are in this predicament: that it is of primary and greatest importance to bring about this intelligence in all children and in the students for whom we are responsible. Don't leave me alone to solve this problem; let us talk about it. First of all, I want you and me to understand the problem. Do we see that the student must eventually have an occupation, and so he must understand the world, the necessities of the world, its implicit disorder and its increasing destruction and decline? He has to face this world, but not as a specialized entity that makes him incapable of meeting the world. All this implies the acquisition of knowledge and the careful discipline of knowledge. As long as the world is what it is, he has to act in a certain direction and he is occupied most of the time with that, perhaps eight or ten hours a day. Also he has to study and learn about the whole psychological world which has not been explored fully by anyone. Those who have explored it somewhat say what they have discovered; but this becomes knowledge, and the student merely follows, which is not an accurate exploration into oneself.
So you and I have this issue. You may be casually interested, but I as a teacher am really concerned. I, too, am conditioned; I am not quite vulnerable in the sense that has been given here. I have my family problems, and so on, but my dedication supersedes them all. What am I to do or not to do? Does it demand no action but to create with other teachers the atmosphere of intent? The intent is not a goal to be achieved sometime later. The intent is the ever-present activity in which time is not involved at all.