During the holidays, I get long stretches of time to read the newspapers, magazines and to watch television. Through these means, I gather a great deal of information about what is happening in the world. I read articles by experts on war, politics, religion, the environment, films, and education.
What is the effect of this information on my mind? I keep thinking about what I read. Even at night, in a semi-awake state, thoughts keep coming to me about these topics. Is it not the function of the mind to absorb information, to think and analyse and to come to some conclusion, to form a point of view? In what way does this process of thinking and analysing help me or anybody else? Would it not be better if I read less and observed what is happening within me? Can I sit still, be aware of how thoughts and feelings arise and how the body works? Can I keep my body healthy, mind serene, heart affectionate and the awareness free-flowing?
Breathing and other biological processes go on involuntarily. The mind too cannot be stopped from thinking for more than a few seconds. Is it advisable to suppress thoughts? Is it called meditation to suppress thoughts? Let the mind graze like a cow in the vast field of experience and memory.
We had our usual dialogue at the Study Centre on Sunday. This time some visitors also joined us. One of them asked: :Is it necessary to go to a school to be successful later in life? I come from a large family. None of my brothers and sisters attended anyschool for several years. Our father taught us English, Sanskrit and mathematics. We had no difficulty later on when we joined schools and colleges. In fact, two of us became civil servants'. He did not say this with any pride. He felt that schools may be doing some damage by teaching all subjects to all students at the same time.
Another participant said: 'The situation is quite different now. There is so much competition. Students have to learn a great deal within a short time. The speed of life is much higher now.T here is no time to sit quietly and relax. Students who are slow in learning will be pushed out.'
Another participant asked: 'How can students remain uncorrupted while the educational institutions themselves are becoming corrupt? Question papers are sold, marks are manipulated, and so on. What is the worth of this education?'
Another remarked: 'Students are under so much pressure from parents that they are unable to study without fear and anxiety. Their attention span has become very short. They feel restless. They lack the ability to sit down with a relaxed mind and focus their attention on their studies. Many students fall sick when examinations start.'
Yet another one commented: 'Some students work hard for many years and finally they become managers, presidents, chairmen of big corporations. But if you look closely, they are full of fear, insecurity and anxiety. Money, power, fame seldom bring true happiness and creativity in life.'
What do our students and teachers think about these observations? Is schooling a torture? Does it destroy sensitivity and joy? Does it create fear, anxiety and insecurity? Is there away of living and learning without fear and boredom? Is learning about our inner world neglected in the school?