Learning to Unlearn|Dec 7, 2007 6:14 AM| by:

Youth and the Future Education

Youth is that stage of life least committed to vested interests and, therefore, most capable of ushering in great changes. Nature endows it with hope and faith in the future and of courage and endurance and it is indeed Nature’s best instrument for great changes.

But it is left with one weakness too, which has to be overcome so that its achievement becomes effective and lasting. It is the unsteadied and relatively uncontrolled working of the normal human impulses. To the extent youth is able to think and act in a steady way, in that measure is its working effective and lasting.

The Present Juncture

According to Sri Aurobindo, the present juncture in human history is a very extraordinary occasion. It is one of the evolutional crises, not merely a cultural crisis. It really grips all mankind, not merely some people.

It is extremely interesting that the best traditions and standards are being felt today as inadequate. They enjoy no respect with us and fail to move us to any positive action. We are in a general way turned towards the future and the new possibilities.

We surely need to know the true nature of the standards that are being found inadequate and the true nature of the possibilities we are groping for.

Sri Aurobindo says Nature now attempts a fresh self-exceeding; it seeks to reach out to a new level of being, a new status of existence; mind, which is in nature partial, limited, superficial and marked by conflict and division, must be supplanted by a consciousness large and wide and integral, which is capable of unifying all life.

This is the essential evolutional crisis we are up against. A new epoch of life and civilisation, built upon by a wider and more comprehensive consciousness, is in the offing and this should transcend effectively all narrow loyalties, whether in politics and economic living or religion and culture.

This is exactly what youth is seeking all over the world, ­a transcendence of all man-made artificial barriers which divide man from man. But this question, which is really divine in its nature and character, is much marred by motivation of a lower level which makes the entire situation a great deal confused.

And when any vested interests seek to guide and control youth and youth gives up self-direction and becomes subservient to them, then the situation becomes extremely unfortunate. Youth forsakes its high purpose and often becomes negative in its method and approach, which damages its image as also the high cause it is seeking to serve.

The Real Purpose

What needs to be done is a clear identification of the real purpose for which youth feels moved and to which it is primarily dedicated and keep away the lesser interests and causes. Or even when it takes up lesser interests, it does not lose the overall perspective of its seeking, the essential remains the central and the lesser the incidental.

But it should never become narrow and partisan, losing sight of its large universal cause intended by its deeper seeking.

This can be possible if the contemporary crisis is duly recognised and appreciated as the cause of life and nature and evolutional progress which youth, as the most progressive section of humanity, is knowingly or un­knowingly serving.

If youth succeeds in understanding and appreciating what our present situation truly is and also in under­standing and appreciating the great cause it is serving, then Sri Aurobindo would confidently promise to it a life and a future truly great and marvellous – virtually a new world of great freedom, wide collaboration and innate brotherliness, a world free from fear, suspicions, narrow­-minded loyalties of all kinds.

But then youth must make itself wide, large and full of brotherly feeling, so that it may be able to create a world of these qualities. We must make our consciousness, feeling and sympathy large and comprehensive and yet exert our will in the full to usher in the necessary changes.

We need to recognise heartily that our work is one of creation, a revolutionary creation, in which the mental buildings of the past, our concepts, theories and even principles of life and conduct have to go.

But what we cherish is creation and not destruction for its own sake. And then since the work is wide and large, a massive and steady effort and will are needed for it. We cannot afford to be impulsive and get exhausted soon. We must aspire for and steadily cultivate a powerful will with enormous staying capability.

Creating a New Future

In all this process of self-education and self-recreation, the most important thing is to eliminate all our attachment to things of the past and get whole-heartedly concentrated on the future which we seek. We are psychologically determined by our experience and disposition of the past a great deal. That is how the past perpetuates itself.

If we do not recognise how the past secretly continues to influence us, we will never succeed in creating a radically new future. Youth in its nature and constitution is more forward-looking, but is yet much controlled by the past. This secret influence has to be eliminated through a persistent self-examination and self-re-creation.

In this connection, we recall the aspiration of the prayer given by the Mother to the youth of Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education. It is:

“Make of us the hero warriors we aspire to become. May we fight successfully the great battle of the future that is to be born, against the past that seeks to endure; so that the new things may manifest and we be ready to receive them.”

A real new emergence in life involves surpassing the achievement of the entire past as embodied at present. We must recognise the past and its limitations as so acutely represented in the crisis of the present, disown it all and turn whole-heartedly to the future new possibilities and seek their realisation. We thus prepare ourselves and become capable of receiving the inspiration and the force of the universal Spirit that promotes evolutional progress.

In this epochal work of creating a new world and a new humanity – a world essentially collaborative and a hu­manity united and one – what is needed is a consciousness whole and large, a personality integrated and uplifted. In other words, it is an attempt to rise above the normal mental-intellectual standards into the horizons of the spiritual consciousness of unity, harmony, goodwill, free­dom, trust and mutual helpfulness.

This is the work which is being attempted by youth all over the world, more-or-less unknowingly through its attitudes of rejection of the past, of discarding conven­tions and traditions and its seeking to find and realise new possibilities of freedom, wideness and large collaboration.

Indian youth has for this task a special aptitude and, therefore, a special responsibility. A persistent seeking of the spiritual in the cultural history of India give us a relatively tangible feeling for the calm and the wide and the free consciousness of the Spirit and we can possibly realise it more easily if we try for it. It is that deeper consciousness of wide sympathies which has to take the place of the divided and dividing consciousness of intellec­tual thinking.

But the new spiritual consciousness should not be one which condemns and rejects the world and just cares for individual peace and mukti, but also powerful enough to assert itself in the world and transform it. The new spirituality would have the peace and depth of the older spirituality but also the power and wideness to change the world.

Is the youth of India not better endowed for this great cultural work that is going on in the world today? And what a wonderful privilege it is to be engaged in it!

Sri Aurobindo saw the coming of this epochal change long long ago, in the last decade of the last century, when the contemporary crisis had not yet emerged. He has elaborately considered the nature of the crisis and its remedy in his The Life Divine, The Human Cycle and The Ideal of Human Unity, and also evolved the technique of creating the new personality in his system of Integral Yoga. And he addressed to the youth of the country a special appeal, an appeal of faith, of hope, of entreaty, of love and confidence. He said:

“Our call is to young India. It is the young who must be the builders of the new world… all who are free in mind and heart to accept a completer truth and labour for a greater ideal. They must be men who will dedicate themselves not to the past or the present but to the future.

“They will need to consecrate their lives to an exceed­ing of their lower self, to the realisation of God in themselves and in all human beings and to a whole-­minded and indefatigable labour for the nation and for humanity.

“It is with a confident trust in the spirit that inspires us that we take our place among the standard-bearers of the new humanity that is struggling to be born amidst the chaos of a world in dissolution, and of the future India, the greater India of the rebirth that is to rejuvenate the mighty outworn body of the ancient Mother.”

Indra Sen

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