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Education as the Growth of Consciousness

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All knowledge is within you. Information you get from outside, but from where does the understanding come? It is from within. The information from outside gives you dead matter. What puts life into it, light into it, is your own inner light. All education, all culture means drawing this inner light to the front. Indeed the word `education’ literally means, `to bring out’. Plato also pointed to the same truth when he said that education is remembrance. You remember what is imbedded or secreted within, you bring to the light, the light of your physical mind, what you have within, what you already possess in your being and inner consciousness. Acquisition is not education. Indeed a miser is not a rich man; rich is he who knows how to utilise his wealth; even so a possessor of much information is only a carrier of loads.

True education is growth of consciousness. It is consciousness that carries the light and the power of the light. We are born upon earth with this consciousness at the centre of our being. And a growing child is nothing but a growing consciousness. Growth of consciousness means an increasing intensity and an increasing amplitude or wideness of the light.

Unfortunately, placed as we are under the circumstances of life as it is, this light of consciousness is not allowed to grow in its natural and normal way. The external demands of life and the world put a pressure upon it which turns it away from its straight path. Things are demanded of this light or consciousness which do not belong to its nature, which are not an expression of its nature. As though it is twisted, tortured or smothered under utilitarian necessities.

The brain should be a flowering of this consciousness, a developing vehicle for the expression of the increasing consciousness. For that a guidance is needed so that one may always turn within and look for that consciousness, feel it growing, and with one’s will and thought and act help its growth and development.

A brain is not developed by the mass of information that may be pressed into it. Information is necessary but it should be presented in such a way that it serves as fuel, helpful fuel to the mounting fire; it must not be merely piled up upon and around the fire or be as so many wet faggots crushing it down with their weight. A true learner is one who seeks sincerely this inner consciousness which is one’s own; the true teacher is one who knows how to lead the learner towards this inner light.

Education is organisation. Mind’s education means organisation of mental faculties. Organisation naturally involves development. The faculties in the normal and natural state are an undeveloped disorganised lot, a confused mass, – unformed, ill-formed ideas, notions, thoughts, form a jumble. They have no purpose, no direction, no common impulse or end, each runs in its own way.

The mind’s faculties, such for example as attention, memory, discrimination, reasoning, cogent thinking, have to be clear and efficient and learn how to work harmoniously for a common objective. In the process and for that purpose they have to be developed, that is to say each of them has to be strong, able, ample, concentrated. They have to present a united front and function towards an ever-increasing consciousness and knowledge.

As for the mental faculties so for the faculties of the vital. The normal vital being in man is in a greater and perhaps more dangerous chaos. The impulsions, emotions, upsurges that belong to this domain have not so much to be developed or increased as to be purified, made conscious, yoked together in a common drive towards a harmonious dynamic realisation in life and life’s achievements.

And lastly the organisation in the physical body. The limbs of the body have not an even growth, they do not move together in a balanced and rhythmic way. Some are unhealthy, some do not work, some others are overworked. These too have to be coordinated, each set in its place and made to function in unison with others. That is physical education and that too means perfect organisation.

We have said that organisation means working for a common end and a common purpose. That comes from an opening into a deeper and higher level of being. We name it the soul. The soul’s purpose, the soul’s destiny, has to be achieved and fulfilled. An organised and educated mind and life and body means to be the best and the most perfect vehicle for the expression upon earth of the soul’s consciousness.

Nolini Kanta Gupta

(Nolini Kanta Gupta was a revolutionary, linguist, scholar, critic, poet, philosopher and a man of deep spiritual realisation. Author of nearly 60 books he was a Trustee of Sri Aurobindo Ashram.)