Often I come across thoughts & perspectives of deep, intelligent human beings on the topic of education — why? how? what? It feels warm to know that not everyone was sold to a mindless machination & actually gained an education. Like a child responding to splashing water & the joys of wind through fallen leaves, I couldn’t help myself but meditate on the same topic. Then I chose to write about what is it that I would call a fundamental, vital & necessary education for one & all.
Anything conceived for all cannot be specific. If I were charged with feeding the whole world, I wouldn’t dwell on a particular recipe of soup. I would seek to nourish, allowing that intent to guide what I cook before the hour of day guided my hands through the specific recipe. So be it with defining a fundamental education.
To me, a fundamental education is adorned by 4 trees whose roots & crowns keep growing in the direction that is their dharma. These 4 trees are:
- Recognising & developing a virgin spirit
- Understanding & crafting a necessary transaction with one’s ecosystem
- An effortless action
- A vital & inevitable expression
Recognising & developing a virgin spirit
We are born with this ability. We take in the novel, the strange, the amusing with all of our being — our hands, our mouth, our feet, our entire body & mind. We steadily lose this ability over time — to propriety, to priority, to value, to image, to conformity, to laziness. A fundamental education fosters an active awareness of this ability & the means to nurture it. A fundamental education provides you the means & the reason for growing fresh eyes. To be able to look at this world & her ways with fresh curious eyes becomes a skill when the natural ability is ebbing away to the fact of growing up. This is not just about new phenomena or that multi-coloured bird — it is about relearning how to ride that bicycle or taste mom’s soup as if for the first time or learn how numbers add with a wonder of watching a glass vase being blown for the first time, and then be able to retain that wonder. It is not about Science or Economics or English or Art; it is about refraining from the laziness of subscribing to accumulated knowledge.
Why is this tree vital? An educated soul is deeply connected with what is. It is not merely an intellectual reflection of what is but a holistic reflection. And in being a reflection, it is aware of propaganda & agenda thereby actively & consciously disallowing the formation of the cataract of the mind — biases. This is only possible when the soul’s eyes are renewed & there is a great deep faith in the ability of the being to know again & entirely. Utile knowledge has its place. One needn’t rediscover the road home every time one has journeyed away from home. However, to treat all knowing as banausic is detrimental to this tree. This tree also helps the commercial goals of design thinking & creative solutioning because such an educated mind will perceive things ab initio. This tree also fosters connections with the Earth, consciously & deeply. It also helps retain the Maker spirit in us.
Understanding & crafting a necessary transaction with one’s ecosystem
We are constantly in transactions with our ecosystem — initially, it is perhaps just our care-givers & then it is our circle of friends, community, food, clothing, transport, consumables, etc. An education which nurtures a clear understanding of how & what we take from the Earth & what & how we give back to it is a thorough education. One branch on this tree focuses on growing our own ingredients for food. Another branch on this tree focuses on preparing our food & serving it — understanding tastes, preferences, well-being, healing & much more. A deep meditative awareness of each of our transactions & the ripples that ensue, is indispensable knowing. Over generations we forget the intent & motivation of many of our transactions with our ecosystem & begin believing that X was always there for Y — cows are here for giving us milk & beef, minerals are there for mining, rivers are for irrigating our lands, the poor will always be poor & are here to work for the rich, etc. Often this tree is called mindfulness but it is much more than mindfulness; it is also being informed — gathering data, tracing origins, etc. It is also extracting dependence & connections — past, present & future. It is also highlighting psychological & convenient biases. It is also surfacing exploitative agendas & self-fulfilling prophesies. Such a mind doesn’t silo learning into History, Geography, Politics, Economics, Culinary Science etc. Such a mind is educated to view as a whole or strives to attain that.
Why is this tree vital? This is what will rid us of the need to refuel dysfunctional system. This is what will empower us to get off the grid — food production grids, power grids, political grids, economic grids. Without this tree, we will only be slaves in systems created by greed & power. Often, people & my “educated” mind would challenge this tree & demand why learning agricultural practices are vital — because nourishment is vital. Not having this knowledge has resulted in our eating cereals/grains/vegetables/fruits which someone else produces to whatever economically advantageous quality & nutritional detriment. One will also gain the awareness of how killing another is a transaction that is no longer necessary & at best it is ok to be a scavenger than subscribe to meat factories. Even there, in growing the lives one wishes to take, one can be off the hormone-infused-genetically-modifed “meat”-grid. It is not just about food. This extends to the power we produce or the clothing we wear or the furniture we use — to every single transaction with our ecosystem.
An effortless action
With a virgin spirit that is enormously aware of its transactions with the world, there is a clarity around what is a vital & necessary action to carry out in order to least disturb the intelligent way of the Natural world. Today, we educate ourselves for a career or a vocation with least regard to the initial 2 trees. We act as if the world is what we must grab from. This action is not effortless nor organic thus leading to conflict, strife, stress & disillusionment. It is not about whether I am skilled to be a software engineer or a pharmacist or a soldier or a dancer. It is about realising a course of effortless action. This alone would respect & judiciously respond to the education imparted by the aforementioned 2 trees. Often, we go about our lives with utter disregard to all that we “know” — we choose to not recall or resign knowledge to “that’s how the world runs” & continue to propagate the miasma that we think someone else created (news flash! You are that someone). Rather than sullying the world & then create an industry around cleaning it up, we could avoid dirtying it in the first place. Rather than create inflated & fictitious instruments on Wall Street & then talk about managing the bubble (can you even see it?) or the bear run (what bear?), we can clip stupid notions of market forces in the bud. Rather than create a ridiculous psychological disease of gun-frenzy & then talk about gun-control, we could work towards a society that doesn’t have inflicting damage as an option. To be aware of the need for effort in these vital aspects of our lives yet compete to work on news algorithms for someone to manipulate reveals a complete lack of education. And often when we do realise things, we are trapped & so ill-equipped to quit our current mode of living for the educated mode.
Why is this tree vital? Because we continue to shun the vital & keep getting lost in STEM/STEAM education or digital classrooms or mobile apps or some such fad. We constantly believe that by feeding the dysfunctional horror of this world, it will be fixed & if not, then at least I will have an SUV & a lake-house by the time I am 40. We would rather spend billions on the vulgarity of Monsanto & Trans-Pacific Partnership than on feeding the poor. We would rather be monsters & fight over walls & borders killing our own kind than make the world safe for women & children. Only a corrupt mind can say “Well, sure we need to make the world safe for women but we also need people who help us win that war” or “Sure, we must feed the poor, but we must also control seeds to farmers”. It is because our current “education” is devoid of the 1st 2 trees, that we focus on “educating” ourselves for a job rather than educating ourselves to be a healthy citizen of this world. There are countless vocations for the latter as well & the technical skills & understanding required for those also necessitate deep study & exploration.
A vital & inevitable expression
For one educated by planting, watering & growing the aforementioned 3 trees, their soul’s harp is tuned to their unique throb. Ask people in the know. Observe people who are deeply rooted with the earth & oceans & mountains. Watch people who are conscious of their ways & those of their ecosystem. Study people who live an ethical, conscious Flow. Their entire life is their signature expression. This tree grows from the nudge of the roots of the other 3, from the air they breathe, in the silver shade they span. This tree is the result of an education which consciously draws the student to his/her soul & inner workings. This tree is the result of an education which leaves the student comfortable in his/her skin. You may call it confidence-building or any such tactical topic but by now, I hope the reader realises the vastness of this quad-arboreal (4-treed) education proposed here. The student’s inscape is as vital as his/her connections & interactions without. A fundamental education guides the student to the gates of their inner chamber. Whether the technique adopted is meditation or swirling or positive reinforcement workshops or marijuana-induced escapes into one’s depths is not relevant to the scope of this article. A fundamental education does not omit this aspect of the student’s learning.
Why is this tree vital? Because to operate without knowing oneself or when in conflict with oneself is sub-optimal. One who is comfortable in one’s own skin is not in a competition with anyone else. S/He brings to the world her/his unique value which is vital to the world. These sound like happy yet unfounded claims so feel free to doubt the “truth” in them. But very few will question the need to be “self-confident” or “in-sync” or “in touch with their self” or “original”. This tree & its nurturing help the student to know how to reach into their depths & express from there. This tree & its nurturing help the student be aware of their response & comfort/discomfort with stimuli & stirrings. This tree & its nurturing is vital for the student to have the courage to foster an authentic voice. It gives them the necessary support & relief to respond or create without conflict. Without this emotional, psychological & spiritual aspect of the fundamental education, a student is left performing actions without soul.