[Excerpted from: Revolution in Education]
Competition, comparison and judgment are poisonous seeds sown in children in their formative years. Jealousy is nurtured and nourished in young minds when only one student is awarded for coming in first in the exams. The failures burn with shame and anger. Jealousy is the outcome of a competitive society. It is better not to be educated than to be wrongly educated.
Education is termed as the propagation of knowledge. It certainly should be the propagator of knowledge – but if education is teaching bondage, it cannot be a teacher of knowledge. Knowledge is where the mind is free. But where the mind is enslaved, how can there be knowledge? Knowledge itself is liberation.
Education teaches fear. Education teaches greed. Education teaches jealousy and competition. Education initiates the fever of ambition. How can such education be the disseminator of knowledge? How can such education be liberating? It is a propagator of deadly diseases. This is not the propagation of knowledge; this is the propagation of ignorance.
The fire of jealousy and competition is aroused
In the present system the consciousness of a person becomes full of fear and greed. The fire of jealousy and competition is aroused. The fever of ambition is created. It is no wonder if, in all these circular motions, life is wasted.
Such education is dangerous. Such religions are dangerous. Education is that which teaches fearlessness, stabilizes one in non-greed, gives energy to rebel, gives courage to accept the challenge of the unknown. Education should teach love not jealousy and competition; it should encourage the natural and self-inspired growth and not the insane drive of ambition. But this can happen only if we accept the uniqueness of everyone’s individuality.
Comparison of one with the other is a fundamental mistake. Comparison creates competition. No one is ahead nor is anyone behind; nobody is below and nobody is above. Everyone is what he is, and everyone has to be that. The teaching of ideals does not allow this. Children are told to be like Rama, to be like Buddha, to be like Gandhi. What can be more erroneous than this? Can anybody become like somebody dropped. In fact, no man is born to be like anyone else. Everybody has to be just himself. Everyone has to let that seed which is hidden within him grow into a tree.
When education accepts the truth of everybody’s unique and unparalleled individuality, that will be the beginning of a great revolution. Then we will not impose any structure on anybody else, but we will help what is dormant in their seed to manifest. Because of ideals a lot of violence has been taking place and we did not allow an opportunity to a person to be what he can be. In an attempt to be someone else, not only does a person not become that other person, he is not able to be what he could have been.
Let everyone be what he is born to be. A rose is a rose and a jasmine is a jasmine. No one is higher nor anyone is lower. The rose cannot be a jasmine and the jasmine cannot be a rose. This judgment of big and small, of higher and lower, is false and absurd. Destroy these evaluations. A poet is not greater than a cobbler, and the politician is also not higher than anyone. A teacher does not become higher by becoming a president.
Everybody is unique
Life is cooperation; in it everyone has a place and everyone is necessary and unavoidable. Don’t you see the insanity of ambitiousness the whole world has fallen into because of identification with reputation, position and function? It is sheer foolishness that a rose be taught to become a jasmine, and a grass leaf be provoked to become a lotus. What is meaningful is that the roseflower blooms to its fullness and the grass leaf blooms to its fullness, that their petals may not remain undeveloped and their fragrance may not remain unreleased.
There is no other bliss in life except that one blooms to one’s full potential. That is the right direction for the work of education.
Universities are increasing and books are increasing. Books and students go on increasing in quantity, but the world is becoming worse. In this world if wars are becoming more violent, hatred is becoming more widespread, jealousy and envy are on the increase, there must be something basically wrong. For this situation the responsibility really rests on those who are connected with education – the teacher and the students.
The small child going to school is full of anxiety. He will be rewarded if he comes first; he will be insulted if he comes second. If he fails he will be humiliated; if he succeeds he will be rewarded and respected by teachers and parents. We are creating competition in him. Competition is a kind of fever. When you are feverish there is a rise of energy. You can run faster, you can use bad language faster, you can do things which ordinarily you would not be able to do. In fever there is a kind of intensity and speed.
The fever of getting ahead
The whole educational system is based on this fever of getting ahead of everyone else. The child’s ego of the is aroused; becomes eager to come first. He works hard, with all his strength. But for what? Only because there is competition to come first. This fever of competition gets hold of children. Even after they come out of the field of education that fever persists.
They want to build a bigger house, have a bigger shop, reach a higher position. From being a junior clerk, they want to be the head clerk; from being a master, they want to be a headmaster. A sort of mad race for being something takes hold of them for their whole life. In this mad race the whole peace, energy and capability in their lives gets destroyed.
What do they achieve in the end? – they reach nowhere. Wherever they reach, they will find someone ahead of them. And as long as there is someone ahead, they will have no peace. So far there has been nobody in the world who has experienced being ahead of everybody; there is always someone in front. The world is big and we are standing in a circle. In a circle who is ahead and who is behind? Everyone is ahead of everyone else. Then the race goes on and on and on. But we are still teaching children to come first; we are teaching madness. They will remain in the race throughout their life and will waste it.
Our whole education is based on jealousy and envy
We go on saying to people, ”Do not be envious, violent and jealous,” but our whole education is rooted in jealousy. We point to one child and say to the other, ’’See how intelligent he is, and how dull you are. Be like him!” Thus we are creating envy and jealousy.
What are we creating in the mind of this child? We are pouring the poison of envy into him. We do not love this child. This poison will flow through his veins, through his mind, for his whole life. The child will always want to be ahead of everyone – and the joke of it all is that nobody ever has been ahead of all, and there is no joy in being ahead. What has joy to do with being ahead of somebody? What relation can peace have to being ahead of somebody? No, this is a fundamentally wrong teaching.
This ambition, and the educational system revolving around that centre of ambition is wrong. If we want to create a new world we will have to change this centre and create some new centre.
What can the new centre be?
I would like to tell you that competition cannot be and should not be the centre of education.
The centre of education should be love.
What do I mean by love? If we want to learn music and if in our effort to learn music we try not to allow anybody to get ahead of us in music can we learn music in such haste and fever? If we fall into that race to remain ahead so that nobody insults or disgraces us, so that nobody proves that we are unsuccessful and we are nobody, can we learn music? Will this be love of music or love of ego? If it is love of ego, then music cannot be learned. Can we learn music while loving the ego?
For learning, humility is required. Our educational system teaches ego, not humility. Teachers are always complaining that there is no humility in the students. How can the teachers expect humility? When we teach students to be ahead of everyone, we are teaching them ego. How can there be humility in them? It is a fallacy to expect that. When they stand ahead of others, their humility is destroyed and they are full of ego. Those suffering from ego cannot learn music, cannot learn anything.
The whole foundational structure of education is basically wrong. Then education can only be of competition, rivalry, and ambition, which naturally creates a world full of ambitious fights, battles and conflicts. These children will grow up tomorrow and will fight. They will fight as a crowd, as a society, as a cult, or as a nation, because they have to be ahead of everyone. They will fight for their country.
Schools prepare students for war
All countries of the world are fighting. Why are they fighting? – because the children have been taught nothing else but fighting. They have not been taught love, they have been taught jealousy and envy. About one hundred million people were killed in two world wars. There must be something wrong with the education. What sort of education is this, which enables the killing of millions of people over five to ten years? What sort of students have come out of the universities? How diseased are their minds? How is it possible that wars continue to be fought in this world every day and the universities also continue to grow?
If the education is true and the universities are real, wars must disappear from the world. There would be no wars because how can an educated person fight? Can a cultured, civilized person fight? Can he kill? – not one or two persons but millions of people? But that is what we are doing. A well-educated student will fight and go to wars! He cannot be aware of the strategies that cause war, because in him only the seeds of war have been sown. The seeds to fight with everyone else have been sown in him. In fact he will be interested in war, he will be happy fighting.
Can the world be a better place to live in when the poison of competition and ambition is being poured into the minds of children? When a child is keen to go ahead of others and others are wanting to leave him behind, then, after being educated for twenty years, what will he do in life? He will do what he has been taught.
Every person is pulling the other down. From the peon to the president, everyone is pulling the others down. In this process, if a peon somehow becomes a president, we tell him it is a matter of great pride and dignity for him. Actually there is no greater violence than that of pushing oneself ahead by pulling others back. But we are teaching this violence and calling it education.
In a world based on this violence, if there are continuous wars it is no wonder! If in a world based on this education, when palaces are being built near huts, what is the wonder if people living in a palace are pleased at seeing people living in huts die? There are poor people and there are others who have so much more and still do not know what to do with it. This is all due to the present education; the teacher is also responsible for this. For this world which is created by such education the teacher is responsible. He has become an instrument for exploitation. In the name of giving education to the children, the teacher has become an instrument in the hands of the vested interests.
If this is education, then it will be better to stop educating completely. Perhaps that way a man will be better off. An uneducated man living in a forest will be a better man because he has more love and less competition, more heart and less mind.