LETTERS TO SCHOOLS VOLUME ONE 1ST OCTOBER, 1979
It is one of the peculiarities of human beings to cultivate values. From childhood we are encouraged to set for ourselves certain deep-rooted values. Each person has his own long-lasting purposes and intents. Naturally the values of one differ from those of another. These are cultivated either by desire or by the intellect. They are either illusory, comfortable, consoling or factual. These values obviously encourage the division between man and man.Values are ignoble or noble according to one's prejudices and intentions. Without listing various types of values, why is it that human beings have values and what are their consequences? The root meaning of the word value is strength. It comes from the word valour. Strength is not a value. It becomes a value when it is the opposite of weakness. Strength - not of character which is the result of the pressure of society - is the essence of clarity. Clear thinking is without prejudices, without bias;it is observation without distortion. Strength or valour is not a thing to be cultivated as you would cultivate a plant or a new breed.It is not a result. A result has a cause and when there is a cause it indicates a weakness; the consequences of weakness are resistance or yielding. Clarity has no cause. Clarity is not an effect or result; it is the pure observation of thought and its total activity. This clarity is strength.
If this is clearly understood, why have human beings projected values? Is it to give them guidance in their daily life? Is it to give them a purpose, for otherwise life becomes uncertain, vague, without direction? But the direction is set by the intellect or desire and so the very direction becomes a distortion.These distortions vary from man to man, and man clings to them in the restless ocean of confusion. One can observe the consequences of having values: they separate man from man and set one human being against another. Extended, this leads to misery, to violence and ultimately to war.
Ideals are values. Ideals of any kind are a series of values, national, religious, collective, personal, and one can observe the consequences of these ideals as they are taking place in the world. When one sees the truth of this,the mind is freed of all values and for such a mind there is only clarity. A mind that clings to or desires an experience is pursuing the fallacy of value,and so becomes private, secretive and divisive.
As an educator, can you explain this to a student: to have no values whatsoever but to live with clarity which is not a value? This can be brought about when the educator himself has felt deeply the truth of this.If he has not, then it becomes merely a verbal explanation without any deep significance. This has to be conveyed not only to the older students but also to the very young. The older students are already heavily conditioned through the pressure of society and of parents with their values; or they themselves have projected their own goals which become their prison. With the very young what is most important is to help them to free themselves from psychological pressures and problems. Now the very young are being taught complicated intellectual problems; their studies are becoming more and more technical; they are given more and more abstract information; various forms of knowledge are being imposed on their brains, thus conditioning them right from childhood. Whereas what we are concerned with is to help the very young to have no psychological problems, to be free of fear, anxiety, cruelty,to have care, generosity and affection. This is far more important than the imposition of knowledge on their young minds. This does not mean that the child should not learn to read, write and so on, but the emphasis is on psychological freedom instead of the acquisition of knowledge, though that is necessary. This freedom does not mean the child doing what he wants to do but helping him to understand the nature of his reactions, his desires.
This requires a great deal of insight on the part of the teacher. After all, you want the student to be a complete human being without any psychological problems; otherwise he will misuse any knowledge he is given. Our education is to live in the known and so be a slave to the past with all its traditions, memories, experiences. Our life is from the known to the known, so there is never freedom from the known. If one lives constantly in the known there is nothing new, nothing original, nothing uncontaminated by thought. Thought is the known. If our education is the constant accumulation of the known then our minds and hearts become mechanical without that immense vitality of the unknown. That which has continuity is knowledge, is everlastingly limited. And that which is limited must everlastingly create problems. The ending of the continuity - which is time - is the flowering of the timeless.