Guiding Light of The Month

All is light, all is love, ignorance and egoism are but vain phantoms, they can be dissolved. And over all things spreads Thy sovereign peace, Thy fecund calmness. - The Mother

From the Editor’s Desk (May 2014)

In this issue of our newsletter, we look at mental education, having explored a little on physical and vital education in the past several issues. Like the physical and the vital, the mental is one plane of the being. Sri Aurobindo describes the mental plane as that “…part of the nature which has to do with cognition and intelligence, with ideas, with mental or thought perceptions, the reactions of thought to things, with the truly mental movements and formations, mental vision, and will… that are part of his intelligence.” How would one educate this instrument which is all these? 

It will be good to contemplate on what happens in schools these days. Schools do concentrate to a large part on mental education. To what degree, and towards what aim, however, will be the point of deviation from the perspective of integral education. Normal schooling is generally opportunistic, seeking to secure the future desired economic status of the country by educating the young for the economy primarily. However, according to the yardstick of Integral Education, normal school experience for the child falls short in major ways in catering to an integral mental education programme.

The Mother proposes five areas which a proper mental education programme must fulfil, namely :

(1) Development of the power of concentration, the capacity of attention.

(2) Development of the capacities of expansion, widening, complexity and richness.

(3) Organisation of one’s ideas around a central idea, a higher ideal or a supremely luminous idea that will serve as a guide in life.

4) Thought-control, rejection of undesirable thoughts, to become able to think only what one wants and when one wants.

(5) Development of mental silence, perfect calm and a more and more total receptivity to inspirations coming from the higher regions of the being.

It seems likely that most mainstream schools these days probably focus their attention, to some degree on points 1 and 2, giving little or no attention to points 3 to 5. This, however, needs more scrutiny and study to be ascertained. With point (3), the   “supremely luminous idea” is also subject to debate.

Mainstream schools run on their own agenda, just as alternative schools run on particular principles and philosophies and therefore cannot be compared. However, one should question the merits of any educational system and assess with reason, which of these offers a holistic education and serves to develop a more wholesome human being, happily and effectively able to function in the society while contributing positively to the human evolution. 

Like the heart, the vital and the body, the mind is an instrument of the manifestation of the Spirit, according to Integral Education. The mind needs to be facilitated to develop such that it will realize its best use according to the highest principle guiding its use. The role of the teacher comes to the fore once again. How will he or she engage in this facilitation. The high point for the teacher lies in finding the means towards facilitating the perfection of this instrument in the student.

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