Guiding Light of The Month

In this immense heroic struggle, in this sublime struggle of love against hatred, of justice against injustice, of obedience to Thy supreme law against revolt, may I gradually be able to make humanity worthy of a still sublimer peace in which, all internal dissensions having ceased, the whole effort of man may be united for the attainment of a more and more perfect and integral realisation of Thy divine Will and Thy progressive ideal. - The Mother

Some practical hints for Spiritual Education

A complete psychic and spiritual education is a life-long process, and yet, in so far as they truly give meaning to the life-development, they must determine the entire process of the education of the child and the youth. In fact, they must truly be the starting point of all education. A few indications and ideas which would govern this programme of education are given below.

It may first be noted that a good many children are under the influence of a psychic presence which shows itself very distinctly at times in their spontaneous reactions and even in their words. All spontaneous turning to love, truth, beauty, knowledge, nobility, heroism, is a sure sign of the psychic influence. To recognise these reactions and to encourage them wisely and with a psychic feeling would be the first indispensable step.

It is also important to note that to say good words, give wise advice to a child has very little effect, if one does not show by one’s living example the truth of what one teaches. The best qualities to develop in children are sincerity, honesty, straightforwardness, courage, disinterestedness, unselfishness, patience, endurance, perseverance, peace, calm and self-control; and they are taught infinitely better by example than by beautiful speeches.

The role of the teacher is to put the child upon the right road to his own perfection and encourage him to follow it, watching, suggesting, helping, but not imposing or interfering. The best method of suggestion is by personal example, daily conversation and the books read from day to day. These books should contain, for the younger student, the lofty examples of the past, given not as moral lessons but as things of supreme human interest, and for the older student, the great thoughts of great souls, the passages of literature which set fire to the highest emotions and prompt the highest ideals and aspirations, the records of history and biography which exemplify the living of those great thoughts, noble emotions and aspiring ideals. Opportunities should be given to the students, within a limited sphere, of embodying in action the deeper and nobler impulses which rise within them.

The undesirable impulses and habits should not be treated harshly. The child should not be scolded except with a definite purpose and only when indispensable. Particularly, care should be taken not to rebuke a child for a fault which one commits oneself. Children are very keen and clear-sighted observers; they soon find out the educator’s weaknesses and note them without pity.When a child makes a mistake, one must see that he confesses it to the teacher or the guardian spontaneously and frankly; and when he has confessed, he should be made to understand with kindness and affection what was wrong in the movement and that he should not repeat it. A fault confessed must be forgiven. The child should be encouraged to think of wrong impulses not as sins or offences but as symptoms of a curable disease, alterable by a steady and sustained effort of will - falsehood being rejected and replaced by truth, fear by courage, selfishness by sacrifice and renunciation, malice by love.

A great care should be taken that unformed virtues are not rejected as faults. The wildness and recklessness of many young natures are only the over-flowings of an excessive strength, greatness and nobility. They should be purified, not discouraged. An affection that sees clear, that is firm yet gentle and a sufficiently practical knowledge will create bonds of trust that are indispensable for the educator to make education of the child effective. When the child asks a question, he should not be answered by saying that it is stupid or foolish, or that the answer will not be understood by him. Curiosity cannot be postponed and an effort must be made to answer the question truthfully and in such a way s to make the answer accessible to the brain of the hearer.

The teacher should ensure that the child gradually begins to be aware of the psychological centre of his being the psychic being, the seat within of the highest truth of our existence, that which can know and manifest this truth. With this growing awareness, the child should be taught to concentrate on this presence more as a living fact.

(to be continued)

(Selected from Kireet Joshi’s essay – “Some Practical Hints For Spiritual Education”,‘Dimensions of Spiritual Education – Integral Education Series’, Published by Sri Aurobindo Institute of Research in Social Sciences, A Unit of Sri Aurobindo Society, Puducherry)

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