I woke up this morning to see the bloody photos of people wounded in the Brussels Airport attack. Well, in my four decades of existence this is not the first time one has been exposed to such mind numbing violence. Nor is this the first time violence has erupted in five thousand years of human history. Is violence an innate aspect of human consciousness? Are we doomed to live in Earth with conflict? If we answer this question with a yes, it amounts to a fatalism. If we answer this question with a no, we awaken within ourselves a profound sense of responsibility. It becomes each individual’s responsibility to search for the roots of violence. Do we ask this question every moment in our lives? Does this question assume any proportion of significance or importance than other questions in life?
Do schools help children ask the question of how to live life without conflict? Or rather they instill values of competition, ambition and becoming successful at all costs instead of raising the enormous challenge of creating a world without conflict: a world based on compassion.
Unfortunately, we never inquire deeply, neither the schools nor we. What matters more to us are marks, degrees, success. We measure and are prone to being measured. The entire school system is nothing but the rabid cultivation of technological capacity and acquiring a degree. How much of time and energy are spent by teachers, educators and parents to question the values of society, to examine the psychological roots of conflict. We fret over the fact that our children do not study or perform poorly in exams. We spend sleepless nights worrying about getting our children admitted in expensive colleges and universities. But do we ever have even a modicum of seriousness in asking questions about life, about whether our children shall grow up to create a different world? Rather we coerce, manipulate, influence and pressurize our children to follow the very values of a culture that instills violence.
Are acts of violence separate from what is taught in schools? Are acts of violence separate from what plays out in our daily lives, in our relationships, organizations and families? Do we have terrorist within us – in our minds- or they exist only outside? Does terrorism mean only a gun wielding man or it begins its life much subtly in our consciousness when we compare, judge, evaluate and compete with the person next to us.
Where is even the space to ask such questions, leave alone go into them? At school we are busy pursuing curriculum, grades and degrees. At home we watch soaps, plan vacations and outings. At the office we plan for the next promotion, pay hike or jump to another well paying job. We discuss politics, current events, showing our erudition in matters ranging from local to national to global; some even write columns in newspapers and become prominent personalities. But beneath all this seethes a mind that is measuring, hungering for more, for power and success.
At NEEV Vidyalaya we are trying to create a space to ask these questions and go into them. We are trying to give space to the larger questions of life and to create minds that can penetrate all conflict relentlessly. What matters at NEEV Vidyalaya is not scientific knowledge, academic capacity or acquiring a degree but far more importantly to become a good human being. A good human being is an extraordinary human being. Only a compassionate human being is a being endowed with intelligence. And it does not matter even if he is not literate. What we need is compassion more than technological wizardry. And being compassionate requires extraordinary hard work and insight.
A couple of days back I received a letter from a sponsor for her sponsored kid. It was heart warming for me to read it. If we are all concerned about the spate of the world and humanity we all need to take action. We need to create a revolution in education so that schools become places where children flower in freedom and the intelligence of compassion. Such schools need educators who have themselves probed deeply into the consciousness of man and therefore can light the same fire in the children. At the least we can support such an endeavor. When sponsors join the NEEV school program, most often it is from a sense of charity, of helping the underprivileged. But after they continue being part of NEEV family, they gradually understand that NEEV Vidyalaya is not about charity. It goes much beyond all this. It is attempting a revolution in the consciousness of man. In such matters size and appearance are very deceptive. It is not about big buildings and fancy furniture or the number of children in school. In fact they are even detrimental to true inquiry. Even if one soul seeks his way to compassion, he has the power to affect the entire consciousness of humanity. Sponsors who support NEEV Vidyalaya themselves start undergoing a journey of questioning and enlarging their view of world.
I am reproducing an edited letter of such a sponsor to her sponsored kid.
My Dear Anita,
This is your elder sister/aunty (you can choose). I met you at NEEV Vidyalaya last year November (2015). This time I may not be able to meet you in person, but I am so glad that you can read, write and speak in English (because) I can send my warm love and blessings to you in this letter.
I was really proud of you, when Anurag told me that you are quite good in studies and are attentive and sincere girl. This is what is expected of you beta, you shall reach places with dedication and hard work. Your parents are luck to have a child like you. Do give them my best wishes, especially your mother. Would love to meet them too some day. Always give your personal best to everything in life, be it studies, personal relationships or family. We have huge expectations from a bright girl as you are. The unique curriculum Anurag propagates at NEEV Vidyalaya is commendable. It shall ensure you become responsible citizen of the country and ultimately an aware global citizen.
Anita, with your perseverance (hard work and dedication) you will be a very successful human being in trying to help other fellow human beings. It means so much to me that I am associated with you. It gives us immense pleasure to be knowing you. We do have a close bond, even though we cannot meet regularly. Do believe me when I say that I think about you often and wish the choicest blessings of God to be showered upon you.
You are the destiny’s child. Do inculcate the habit of reading books and acquiring knowledge (as) it will be for the best. I wanted to give you a huge dictionary and hope you wont find it too heavy and too much to read ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..