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Realities of Spiritual Education

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The revolution of the 16th Century, which is usually termed the Reformation, contributed to the most far-reaching and profound awakening in the history of the western world. It is, perhaps, most thought of as the reformation of the churches but this would be a misinterpretation of its broader significance for human progress.

We are now going through a far greater revolution today, far greater because there is a world-wide demand for change which goes deep to the spiritual roots of human heritage. This demand for change becomes evident with the breaking down of values which have served man’s structure of civilisation for more than a thousand years. These values are today no longer tenable to the support they profess. The spirit has gone out of the church and temple; the truth has departed from family life; we have to reassess the needs of education in a society which is a mockery of cultured lives; and there are no longer any statesmen in the world, only very poor politicians.

We have to return to the first principles for our search for true knowledge. We must search within ourselves and find the spiritual values upon which all true knowledge depends, and build our new structures of truth upon a higher turn of the evolutionary spiral. With an understanding of Sri Aurobindo’s integral yoga a new psychology emerges which is the answer to many of the problems of world educational needs. This psychology embraces the transcendent and supraconscient levels of human consciousness and is therefore more optimistic than the subconscious levels of a Freudian or Jungian approach.

It is now possible to afford definite guidance to the expectant mother to enable her to prepare, not only herself for the responsibility of giving life, but for the best possible help to the child during the period of gestation. It is considered by some medical authorities that the pre-natal condition of the mother has very little influence upon the child in the womb. However, one should remember that the pre-natal attitude of the mother is a continuous state of conscious development and as such projects itself in a most important manner of influence into the future adventure of birth. It is this growing awareness of responsibility that is so important a factor of communication in the future life of the child.

I. Play-School (Age: 1 to 3 years)

The first step into a New World may be at the age of one year when the child has taken his first tentative steps protected in a kind of crèche atmosphere but where he first comes into contact with sense impressions guided through contact with shapes, texture, colour, taste, smell, sound and a secure environment of wonder and discovery.

The child at this age must be assured of two fundamental values: Love and Security, it is therefore most essential that care should be taken with the selection of the teachers engaged to establish this most important First Environment which although having the fundamentals of love and security must also contain the elements of wonder, discovery and adventure.

It is also most necessary that the ideals of this period of growth and progress are fully communicated to the parents and that the same care and attention is continued by the parents at home as in the school environment.

Health and hygiene should be a major concern of the teachers, who must know how to maintain a high standard, especially with regard to cleanliness, sanitation and nutritional values. But there should be no pampering or coddling of the children. In fact all the children should be left to themselves as much as is feasible to their security and needs.

Perhaps after cleanliness and order, colour, beauty and light are the most important. The best colour scheme for very young children is a background of soft pastel shades contrasting the bright primary colours of the games, toys and apparatus they constantly use. The background of pastel shades give the security whilst the bright colours of the toys etc. give the sense of adventure.

II. Pre-School  Discipline of the Physical Mind (Age: 3 to 5 years)

The environment of Love and Security must continue into the basic discipline of the Physical Mind. Things and people assume their proper place and function and establish themselves in the order of a recognisable pattern of environment—chaque chose à sa place is the theme of discipline so that the Physical Mind begins to put everything in an organised way.

It is only natural that as a most essential part of this discipline physical education will have to play a prominent part and should be compulsory if it is to be effective.

Most children at this age want to be ‘disciplined’. This ‘discipline’ is really an organised rhythm of life which they turn to as a natural support to the security they require.

Educationists today find this a very real problem; viz. how to reconcile freedom with discipline. It is suggested that true freedom, especially of things physical, must derive their range of freedom from a disciplined foundation. The body, for example, can only transcend its limitations when it is fully trained and disciplined. One can only play the instrument with freedom after one has mastered the discipline or technique of usage. Freedom therefore presupposes discipline. As we shall see, the basis of the progressive freedom of the being through the physical, vital and mental minds’ growth must establish itself upon a definite discipline of the physical mind. If this is not done the being is always at the mercy of every invasion of forces, impulses, hungers and desires over which it has no control. And this state of affairs continues throughout a life-time, often with tragic results.

If this discipline of the Physical Mind can be firmly established between the ages of three and five, it will serve as a strong field of secure reference for the following growth of the being; a secure reference, a basis of support where the evolving personality can stand firmly upon a known ground of physical joy and well-being.

III. Prime-School – Fulfilment of the Vital Mind (Age: 5 to 71/2 years)

As the discipline of the Physical Mind continues, and should continue throughout life, Prime-School has the responsibility of dealing with the Vital Mind. Between the ages of 5 and 7 ½ years the child is beset by all the inrush of vital and emotional energies new to the system. This emotional awakening of vital energies is really the physiological and psychological preparation for the period of adolescence to come. It is therefore most necessary that at this age itself we should see that these vital energies are directed towards fulfilment instead of, as is so often the case, towards frustration.

The most effective way to fulfil the vital energies is through all the art forms. The child must be given every opportunity to express itself through drawing, painting, sculpture, dance and drama, music and mime. All forms of art can be used parallel with language instruction. In this way a child can be introduced to at least three languages including the mother tongue at this age.

This systematic discipline of the Physical Mind and channelling the vital energies gives to the Vital Mind its true function and precludes any possibility of a latent inhibition or frustration, laying a sure foundation for the fulfilment of the inner potential.

IV. High-School – Freedom of the Mental Mind (Age: 7 ½ to 10 ½ years)

First Phase
The Mental Mind usually begins to open at about the ages of 7 ½ to 10 ½. This is obviously one of the most important as well as one of the most critical periods in the school life of any human being.

It is only natural that this stage of the growth and opening of the being is essentially dependent upon the progress of the preceding disciplines. If the Physical Mind is disciplined and the Vital Mind is fulfilled there is a natural and spontaneous response of the glandular systems to an awareness of the opening Mental Mind—its need for freedom to wonder and the need for self-discovery and exploration of the universe around.

The glandular systems at this age respond to both the physiological as well as the psychological changes, and these changes are often a great puzzlement to the child unless great understanding is there from teacher and parent to enlighten him on the biological and psychological requirements.

This is the age when the child should be given more and more freedom to explore and discover his world. This freedom is not effective and not at all possible unless the `instrument of knowledge’ of the student, has acquired the discipline of the Physical Mind and the fulfilment of the Vital Mind. Only then will he be able to use the `instrument of knowledge’ to educe his greatest potential.

V. High-School  Freedom of the Mental Mind (Age: 10 ½ to 14 years)

Second Phase
This second phase of the High-School of the Mental Mind is, for the present, perhaps the most important and the most crucial because it has to bear the responsibility of creating the Bridge of transition, linking the present systems of education to the education of the future.

Starting from the opening of the adolescent period, this phase will incorporate the three mind levels proceeding to the peak fulfilment of the Vital Mind and its integration. This integration will constitute a four year period of what could be called a progressive series of creative exercises(1) which will, at this stage, have as their objective the sole purpose to educe that inner potential of the child, which is the unique and individual birth right of every human being.

Perhaps we have forgotten the original meaning of the word Educate—from Educe, to lead, to draw out… that which is latent, occult, hidden within the yet to be evolved depths of the being. How long will it take us to comprehend the enormous value, the immeasurable potential that lies hidden in the human psyche?

We know, by long experience that goes back to Vedic times, that this great wealth, sleeping dormant within the depths of the being, can be awakened by yogic discipline. We know that this potential is the true psychic personality of the being, awaiting to manifest itself at the first favourable opportunity. We know that a man becomes ten times at least more valuable to humanity at large, to life, to the universe and to God by yogic experience and realisation. Because this is his unique potential which only he can manifest and therefore his perfect contribution to life.

The obvious function of education is to make possible the favourable opportunity through the psychological understanding and the necessary structure for environmental studies. To bring forth the evolving personality of the individual under these most favourable conditions would naturally be of inestimable value.

The individual becomes at once a valued contributing factor to the nation instead of a burden on the social and national economy.

VI. Graduation School  Psychic Education (Age: 14 to 17 years)

To graduate from the School of the Future will mean that one has attained to the stature of an individual. To put this more precisely it means that the preceding disciplines and fulfilment have been effective to the extent of putting each part of the being in its right place so that each knows its proper function, its limitations and its potential. This organisation around the ego or the central point of the being is essential if the Psychic Being is to come forward and take its proper place in the being’s growth and evolving consciousness.

With such organisation the personality is formed and one becomes a true individual. Perhaps the most simple definition of an `individual’ would be: one who has organised himself around his central being—found his potential and in consequence has something unique to contribute to life. This naturally presupposes a certain purity of structure where the three minds respond to their proper function without mixture.

The average human being today is not only subject to a very mixed consciousness—e.g. very few mental mind functions `think’ without emotional or sensual stimuli—but as a result he is at the mercy of all extraneous forces, impulses, hopes, desires, and continuous error.

Graduation from the School of Psychic Education will indicate, not only that the student appreciates the value of his own individuality as an expression of his uniqueness but that he has a progressive understanding of his inner potential and how this can contribute to the group, the society, the nation, the world.

VII. College – Spiritual Education (Age: 17 to 21 years)

Once the student has recognised his inner potential and begins to organise himself into a true individual he finds that his True Self or his Pyschic Being now has a voice in the pursuit of perfection.

Psychic Education leads the student, through self- discovery, to consecrate himself to the highest principles of which he is conscious. With Psychic Education we deal with the true motive of life, the very reason for our existence upon earth—to manifest the highest potential of which we are capable.

Up to now the discovery of the psychic principle, the identification with it, has rarely been a recognised subject in any form of education, which is not exactly surprising as it is that inner identification with Truth which transcends all man-made forms of religious instruction. There is also the fact that there have been so few teachers or educationalists capable of indicating this path of discovery.

To become fully aware of one’s psychic being and live integrally a psychic existence is the object of this College of Spiritual Education. It fulfils what was prepared in the years of the Graduation School.

When the psychic being becomes the `director’ of the being’s life-activities one enters upon that great joy and wonder which is the Adventure of a Spiritual Education which takes one to the highest point of one’s consciousness. For some it is the highest Perfection of which they are capable, for others it is a realisation of the Divine. However, this great joy takes one beyond mere belief, or mental conceptions, it brings one into the conscious stream of a living experience. It matters not whether you surrender yourself to God, Perfection, or any other Highest Concept, it is the experience that is important and your identification with That to which you have given yourself.

These experiences of identification with the highest will no doubt come and go, but with perseverance a time comes when it remains in the consciousness, it has then become a realisation. This is the characteristic difference between identification and spiritual realisation.

The obvious change in emphasis should now be clearly seen: traditional forms of education have all the accent on how much one can take from parents, teachers, books, life—but the Future Education will have its accent on first educing knowledge from within, finding the individual potential, then making that a contribution to life. This alone can be the fulfilment of the human being in an evolving universe.

The College of Spiritual Education integrates all that has been achieved and goes on to establish the Academy of Continuous Education for the whole being, both inner and outer, and for the whole of life.

Norman C. Dowsett

1. The emphasis of the exercises will be on creative thinking to stimulate the opening of the Mental Mind and to prepare for the creative work and experience in Grade School.