June 29, 2022
Sharing the Vision – Founding worker’s advice to teachers
Sharing the Vision of Total Education” was the theme of the two day Teachers Seminar at the start of last year. Here is the inspiring presentation by lawyer Alex Gudkovs, one of the early workers who helped set up the School of Total Education in 1981.
When he first came to Australia in 1964, the school’s Founder, Vijayadev Yogendra, was interviewed by a journalist who had been briefed about Vijay and yoga. He asked Vijay to pose for a picture standing on his head. Vijay replied to the effect:-
I’ve come to help this country stand on its feet.
Bold words you may say. The same boldness was there in the naming of the school some 10 years later – “The School of Total Education”. Total Education!
When Vijay spoke it was with the courage of his convictions. We the supporters, teachers and workers for the School, all need to find within us and keep alive that boldness of conviction.
So where did that boldness, that fearlessness, come from? It did not come from brashness, from assertiveness, self-promotion or any form of ego. It came from knowledge. Vijay did not arrive in Australia with many possessions, he arrived with knowledge. And then he spent the rest of his life imparting and using that knowledge. And this, for the benefit of the many thousands of people who came to him asking him for guidance.
So what was that knowledge, and how was it connected to that fearlessness, manifested as a warm, wonderful confidence, and imparted in all his lectures, discussions and dealings?
That knowledge was the knowledge of right living. And it came not from book learning, but from experience. So why did Vijay have that experience that gave rise
to such knowledge? He had that experience because of the quality of his mind. It is the quality of your mind that will determine what you can experience, and the quality of mind that determines what you can know.
So what is this quality of mind? It is the quality of concentration, of being able to experience or hold thought peacefully and without tension. And it is the quality to see or experience something for what it is, not for what we might want it to be, or hope it be, or fear it be.
And where does that quality of mind come from? It comes from values – the practice of values, and the living of values.
Here you may say that surely reading, studying, digesting of information are the real way to knowledge. They are the ways our society functions in spreading knowledge, the way our schools and universities go. It seems strange to hold that from the practice of patience, tolerance and forgiveness the world can open up to you.
Now nothing I am saying is intended to say you or the students should not read or digest information, and to do so diligently and to the best of your ability. That is a necessary part of learning and education, but it is still only a part. And it is generally concerned with the externals of life. Our conscious life may focus on the external, but it is based on the inner. At every moment, within us, we are having thoughts feeling, impulses, we make decisions, and these inner factors are conditioning what we see and take in, and how we act and behave.
We have various degrees of awareness of that inner life, the thoughts, hopes, desires and motivations that guide our actions. The inner life is available to varying degrees, but to an extent it is a mystery, or even a threat to be avoided. There can lie our fears, our guilts, our frustrations, our disappointments, or darker aspects of ourselves, which we may think are better hidden. But being hidden does not take away their effect on our mood, our actions and our happiness.
The degree of our self-awareness, our self-knowledge, depends on the quality of our mind. If our minds are drawn by cravings and wants, and we entertain angers, impatience, jealousies and so on, our minds are weakened – and we will have a more restricted experience – and we may chose more wrong action, perhaps not in malice, but in ignorance. And we will have a limited capacity to concentrate, and to have insight, and to understand why we do the things we do.
And if we don’t have this independent self based knowledge, we don’t act with knowledge, and that can undermine our confidence. And our response can be to push back with bare faced assertiveness, for fear that our ignorance is seen. Or we can fall back on comfortable and socially acceptable attitudes and behaviour – “its OK because everyone is doing it”. We can become part of the crowd, and move as the crowd moves.
It is to rise above these limitations that we must have a more total education. So we can be free, confident human being, soundly based in our understanding, and able to handle or cope with the challenges and vicissitudes of life.
The imparting of values is a subtle matter. You can’t impart a value you do not have. You can’t impart it by getting the student to read up on it, and you probably won’t impart it by sermonizing on it. The most crucial imparting of values is through example. And the example you set depends on how deeply and consistently you have embraced the value.
If you can get the value across so the student wants to try it, you are on the road to quality of mind and to knowledge.
Total education is not just more facts. You are not totally educated because you know about physics and chemistry and maths and biology and history and literature and art and music and language and have technical skills and can do sport. You are more totally educated when you know yourself, you can choose right action, can fulfil responsibilities, can care for others, can forgive, can happily put yourself aside for the benefit of others, and can genuinely love your fellow man.
The catchwords for the school are “knowledge”, “excellence” and “service”. I hope this seminar can explore all of these