“Your author has nothing to teach. He’s merely a signpost for a lost traveler. It is up to you to decide on the direction. He can offer an experience, but never a conclusion, so even what he has said needs to be thoroughly examined by you. Your mind stands by itself, unmoving. Everything which you call essential - wisdom or radiance or peace - is already present within yourself. When your understanding has passed the thicket of delusions, there is nothing you need to learn from anyone or anything.”
After being involved in the realm of education quite steadily, there are two important things which I’ve managed to pick up that are worth noting. First, parents generally place worldly expectations on their children. They feel a sense of failure or inadequacy if their children doesn't live up to them. Second, there is also a great emphasis on materialistic attainment and scoring points before their friends and neighbors. They feel it is their responsibility to prepare their children to face the world through competition.
Aside from the teachers at schools, aren't parents suppose to be responsible teachers to their children, not only academically, but also educate them on the problems of this terrible world - the violence and all the terrible things that are going on - not only factually, but psychologically as well?
Unfortunately, most parents think they are responsible for their children and their sense of responsibility takes the form of telling them what they should do and what they should not do, what they should become and what they should not become. The parents want their children to have a secure position in society. What they call responsibility is part of that respectability they worship; and it seems to me that where there is respectability there is no order; they are concerned only with becoming a perfect bourgeois. When they prepare their children to fit into society they are perpetuating violence, conflict and brutality. Do you call that responsibility?
Really to be responsible it to care. To care as you would for a tree or a plant, watering it, studying its needs, the best soil for it, looking after it with gentleness and tenderness - but when you prepare your children to fit into society you are preparing them to be violent. If you loved your children you would have no violence.
Of course, many are under the impression that success means the ability to conquer and quell opposition, ignoring the need to establish an inner harmony with oneself. And that responsibility means achieving comfort, security, a guarantee for the rest of their lives of continuous satisfaction. Then someone like me comes along and says, “Is that what you call responsibility?” and questions you and asks you to look deep inside yourself. And you try not to look because it is very disturbing, but when you are driven into a corner to look, you realize that what you have always thought of responsibility is not responsibility at all; it is a mutual gratification, a mutual exploitation.
Let’s discover this on a superficial examination.
A student once said, “My friend had told me her mother would punish her - physically - whenever she scores a C, or continuously yell at her when she scores a B. But she’ll buy my friend an ice cream and sometimes treats when she scores an A.” I don’t know about you - nor am I judging - but I think this parent is teaching violence. Doesn’t it seem obvious to you that one has to be violent in order to become competitive?
Are grades more important than developing moral and ethical values? Is the pursuit of wealth and success are far more important than the attainment of virtues such as gratitude, honesty, integrity, kindness, consideration, and tolerance? Alas, these children fall victim to constant psychological pressures from the powerful structure of society. Today, you’d be one successful parent to have raised a child who is without any psychological glitch.
Perhaps, we ought to blame outdated teaching methods, overcrowded classrooms and an unnaturally fast tempo of life. Maybe we should modify the schools rather than the kids? It is interesting to see how the arguments have evolved. People have been debating about education methods for thousands of years. Whether in the United States or China, everybody had his or her pet method, and strongly opposed all alternatives. Yet hitherto everybody still agreed on one thing: in order to improve education, we need to change the schools.
Personally, I never believe in large institutions - i.e. schools - with their domestic and foreign branches, affiliations, etc. To reach the masses, some sort of a system is required. As a result, the pupils are conditioned according to that system. I believe in teaching just a few, as it requires constant alert observations on each individual in order to establish a true, direct relationship. Because teaching, in itself, is a direct relationship.
A teacher, a good teacher that is, does not depend on any method and drill a systematic routine. Instead, he functions as a pointer of truth, but not the giver of truth. The teacher studies each individual student and awakens him to explore himself, both inwardly and outwardly, and ultimately integrate himself with his being. Furthermore, this teacher, points out the importance of principles without being bounded by them.
Alas, sincere and serious learners are difficult to come by. Many of them are short-term enthusiasts, some of them come with ill-intentions. Nevertheless, most of them are second-hand pupils; basically conformers.
Today, society places a greater need for computer engineers, scientists, businessmen, analysts, because that is where growth, wealth, and power lies. But would society demand for people who are not concerned with aggression, violence, drugs; who are deeply integrated, having integrity and profound wholeness in their lives; will society demand such people? Obviously not.
There are people who confess themselves to be kind and non-violent. They attend sermons in churches or rituals in temples. On the inside, they may bring peace from their communal order. But on the outside, they are no different that any other violent person. Take your neighbor, for instance, you may claim to be at peace with them, but during difficult times, both of you would relish to be selfish and violent against one another for the sake of survival. Similarly, you can say one thing to your children at home - don't smoke, drink, and take drugs, but if you do these things yourself outside, they won't believe you. Indeed, hypocrisy is another huge moral issue these days.
Through centuries of biological as well as psychological inheritance mankind has evolved into being violent. Society demands such behavior from us.
That said, can parents educate themselves as well as their children? That is, by breaking up the pattern in which they have been living the same old habit and amusement of past generations? Can one be a light to oneself and to those around?
Someone once said, “The world is hard. Why should I be soft to my children? If I teach them softness, they won't survive.” Do you see the attitude? How do you expect your children to be kind and compassionate people if you yourself are violent?
Indeed, the influence of the home is more important than that of the school. And I think your author has mentioned that several times in the past.
There is an old Chinese Proverb that said, “A child’s life is like a piece of paper on which every person leaves a mark.” You decide which lines and streaks to put on.