Life Ahead Part Two Chapter 4
I think it is a very rare thing, after leaving school, to find happiness in the latter part of one's life. When you leave here, you will be facing; extraordinary problems, the problem of war, the problems of personal relationship, the problems as citizens, the problem of religion, and the constant conflict within society; and it seems to me that it would be a false education which did not prepare you to face these problems and bring about a true and happier world. Surely it is the function of education, especially in a school where you have the opportunity of creative expression, to help the students not to be caught in those social and environmental influences which will narrow their minds and therefore limit their outlook and their happiness; and it seems to me that those who are about to enter college should know for themselves the many problems that confront us all. it is very important, especially in the world that you are going to face, to have an extraordinarily clear intelligence, and that intelligence is not brought about by any outside influence, or through books. It comes, I think, when one is aware of these problems and is able to meet them, not in any personal or limited sense, not as an American, or a Hindu, or a Communist, but as a human being capable of bearing the responsibility of seeing the worth of things as they are and not interpreting them according to any particular ideology or pattern of thought. Is it not important that education should prepare each one of us to understand and face our human problems, and not merely give us knowledge or technological training? Because, you see, life is not so very easy. You may have had a happy time, a creative time, a time in which you have ripened; but when you leave the school, things will begin to happen and enclose you; you will be limited, not only by personal relationships, but by social influences, by your own fears, and by the inevitable ambition to succeed.
I think it is a curse to be ambitious. Ambition is a form of self-interest, self-enclosure, and therefore it breeds mediocrity of mind. To live in a world that is full of ambition without being ambitious means, really, to love something for itself without seeking a reward, a result; and that is very difficult, because the whole world, all your friends, your relations, everyone is struggling to succeed, to fulfil, to become somebody. But to understand and be free of all this, and to do something which you really love - no matter what it is, or however lowly and unrecognized - , that I think, awakens the spirit of greatness which never seeks approbation, recompense, which does things for their own sake and therefore has the strength and the capacity not to be caught in the influence of mediocrity.
I think it is very important to see this while you are young. because magazines, newspapers, television and radio constantly emphasize the worship of success, thereby encouraging ambition and competitiveness which breed mediocrity of mind. When you are ambitious you are merely adjusting to a particular pattern of society, whether in America, Russia, or India, and therefore you are living on a very superficial level.
When you leave school and enter college, and later face the world, it seems to me that what is important is not to succumb, not to bow your heads to various influences, but to meet and understand these as they are and see their true significance and their worth, in a gentle spirit with great inward strength which will not create further discord in the world.
So, I think that a real school through its students should bring a blessing to the world. For the world needs a blessing it is in a terrible state; and the blessing can come only when we as individuals are not seeking power, when we are not trying to fulfil our personal ambitions, but have a clear understanding of the vast problems with which we are confronted. This demands great intelligence, which means, really, a mind that does not think according to any particular pattern, but is free in itself and is therefore capable of seeing what is true and putting aside that which is false.
Life Ahead Part Two Chapter 4
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