Learning to Unlearn|Jul 7, 2012 8:00 AM| by:

A True Professor

The Mother says a professor, a true professor, must be truly a yogi. That is to say, a teacher, even a school-teacher, one imparting what is called secular education, has to be nothing less than a yogi. The Indian term for teacher is `guru’ and `guru’ meant a teacher both spiritual and secular. This distinction of the two words is made by the modern spirit, it did not belong to ancient culture. Secular knowledge was also considered a necessary part of spiritual knowledge, that which prepared for it and led towards it. The `apara vidya’ or the `vedangas’ were but limbs of the supreme knowledge `para vidya’ and `veda’.

“A teacher has to be a yogi” does not mean that he is to be a paragon of moral qualities, following, for example, the ten commandments scrupulously. Not to tell a lie, not to lose temper, to be patient, impartial, to be honest and unselfish, all these more or less social qualities have their value but something else is needed for the true teacher, something of another category and quality.

I said social qualities, I might say also mental qualities. The consciousness of the teacher has to be other than mental, something deeper, more abiding, more constant, less relative, something absolute. Do we then prescribe the supreme Brahma-consciousness for the teacher? Not quite. We mean the consciousness of a soul, the living light that is within every aspiring human being. It is a glad luminousness in the heart that can exist with or without the brilliant riches of a cultivated brain. And one need not go so far as the Vedantic Sachchidananda consciousness.

That is the first and primary necessity. When the teacher approaches the pupil, he must know how to do it in and through that inner intimate consciousness. It means a fundamental attitude, a mode of being of the whole nature rather than a scientific procedure: all the manuals of education will not be able to procure you this treasure.

It is an acquisition that develops or manifests spontaneously through an earnest desire, that is to say, aspiration for it. It is this that establishes a strange contact with the pupil, radiates or infuses the knowledge, even the learning that the teacher possesses, infallibly and naturally into the mind and brain of the pupil.

Books and programmes are of secondary importance, they are only a scaffolding, the building within is made of a different kind of bricks. A happy luminous consciousness within is the teacher’s asset, with that he achieves all, without it he fails always.

If the teacher is to be a yogi, the pupil on his side must be at least an aspirant. But I suppose a pupil, so long as he is a child, is a born aspirant. For, as the Mother says, a child’s consciousness retains generally something of the pure inner consciousness, for some time at least, until it is over-shadowed by the development of the body and the mind in the ordinary normal way. Something of this, we know, has been expressed in the famous lines of the visionary English poet, Wordsworth (Intimations of Immortality).

Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:

The Soul that rises with us, our life’s Star,

Hath had elsewhere its setting,

And cometh from afar….

But trailing clouds of glory do we come

From God, who is our home:

Heaven lies about us in our infancy!

Shades of the prison-house begin to close

Upon the growing Boy.

But if the right teacher is found, that pure flame in the child’s consciousness can be kept burning, can even be made to turn brighter and higher. A teacher too, on his side, in the presence of a pure child-flame in his pupil may profit by its warm touch; for the two by their intimate interaction grow together towards a greater fulfilment in both.

When we speak or think of education and consider the relation of the teacher and the pupil, we generally confine ourselves to the mental domain, that is to say, aim wholly or mainly at the intellectual acquisition and attainment, and only sometimes as per necessity, as it were, we turn at most to the moral domain, that is to say, we look for the growth of character, of good manners and behaviour – social values as we have said. Here we have tried to bring into the educationist’s view a more important, a much more important and interesting domain – a new dimension of consciousness.

Mastery means to know how to deal with certain vibrations. If you have the knowledge and can deal with the vibrations, you have the mastery. The best field for such an experience and experiment is yourself. First, you must have mastery over yourself and when you have it, you can transmit its vibrations to others in so far as you are capable of identifying yourself with them. But if you cannot deal with the vibrations in yourself, how can you deal with them in others? You can, by word or by influence, encourage people so that they do what is necessary to master themselves, but you cannot yourself have direct mastery over them.

To master something, a movement, for example, means, by your simple presence, without any word, any explanation, to replace a bad vibration by the true one. By means of the word, by means of explanation and discussion, even a certain emanation of force, you exert an influence upon another, but you do not master the movement. Mastery over a movement is the capacity to set against the vibration of the movement a stronger, truer vibration that can stop the other vibration. An example can be easily given.

Two persons are quarrelling in your presence; not only are they quarrelling, they are about to come to blows. Then you approach and explain to them that it is not a desirable thing and you give good reasons so that they refrain from it in the end. You exercise an influence over them in this way. But if, on the other hand, you simply stand before them, look at them and send out a vibration of peace and calm and quietness without uttering a word, without any explanation whatsoever, and if as a result the other vibration does not stand but dies down by itself, that is mastery.

It is the same with regard to curing ignorance. If words are necessary to explain a certain thing, then you do not have the true knowledge. If I have to speak out all that I mean to say in order to make you understand, then I do not have the mastery, I simply exercise an influence upon your intelligence and help you understand, awaken in yourself the desire to know, to discipline yourself, etc., etc. But if I am not able, simply by looking at you, without saying anything, to make you enter into the light that will make you understand, well, I have not mastered the state of ignorance.

The problem of teachers is: how to control the classes, how to bring the students under discipline?

How can you have control over your students or discipline them unless you have control over yourself?

But to learn to have control or mastery over oneself would take a whole lifetime!

It is a pity! But how can you hope for it otherwise? When you have an undisciplined, disobedient, insolent student, it means a certain vibration in the atmosphere which is unfortunately very contagious. If you do not have in yourself the contrary vibration, the vibration of discipline, order, humility, calmness, peace that nothing disturbs, how can you hope, I say, to have an influence? You may tell the student that such a thing should not be done; but the result may be worse or he may mock you. And if, on top of it, you do not know how to control yourself, but get into a temper, well, you may be done for, you may lose for your whole life all possibility of controlling your students.

Nolini Kanta Gupta