Psychologically also, every human being – in fact, it is an inherent tendency to learn and to teach. How the cat, for example, teaches the kitten is a wonderful experience to watch; how a mother bird teaches the young one how to peck at things and how to grasp the grain and how to eat. It is inherent in all of us. The moment you learn, you want to transmit it. So everybody needs to learn what is education. And this is how the Mother wrote her book, On Education. The whole book is on education. That is the first answer I gave to myself.
The second answer was, education consists of what? And Mother described physical education, vital education, mental education, psychic and spiritual education – leading up to, promising a supramental education.
So, according to my understanding now, it means that every human being has a body, therefore has to learn about the human body. Everybody has a vital energy, therefore has to understand what is vital. Everybody has a mind, therefore has to understand what is mind. Everybody has a soul and spiritual goal, ultimately. Therefore one has to understand it.
So these are what I think are essential elements that every human being and every student ultimately should be acquainted with. Up to what degree depends on your individual exploration, your needs, and so on. But something that is basic should be introduced at least to students and teachers and to everybody. So we have planned now on this basis, these two books are only preliminary books. The Aim of Life is directly connected with the psychic and spiritual education. Because Mother says – when she comes to discuss psychic education, she says psychic education is related to the aim of life.
So we have started with the fundamental problem of the aim of life. But much more work has to be done later on, when we come to purely psychic and spiritual education. This is, as it were, a kind of a preliminary to psychic and spiritual education.
The second book that we have prepared, The Good Teacher and the Good Pupil, is designed to explain what is education. Since everybody has to be a teacher, everybody has to be a pupil, one has to understand what is a good teacher, what is a good pupil.
So these two are preliminary books.A third book is already almost ready and we have titled it The Mystery and Excellence of the Human Body. We already have got texts collected, mostly stories – very interesting material, useful material: what is body, what is the mystery of the body, and how the body can be led to its excellences, until we arrive at what Sri Aurobindo calls a divine body, starting with a normal kind of body, and the questions of health, first aid, nutrition, exercises of various kinds and systems of physical education, and marvels of perfection of the body, and then transformation of the human body leading up to the divine body. I mean, this is the one spectrum of the whole book and yet it’s a small book. The texts which are taken are very simple. A lot of work has been done in this field and already it is almost ready, you might say.
The fourth book that we want to work on, and where I invite all of you is a very difficult book and it cannot be done except with the collaboration of all. And that pertains to vital education. In a sense, we might say vital education is the most difficult part of the process of education. Physical education is much easier because you can see the physical, physically. The mental education is simpler because mind is a very specialised instrument. But vital is present – it is a connecting link, as Sri Aurobindo says. It is present in the physical; it is present in the vital, of course; and it is present in the mental and also at the higher levels.
What is the vital and how the vital can be educated? What is essential about the vital that we must present in this book? What are the dimensions of the vital education? So one day, when I come here for quite some time, I would like to have a workshop especially on vital education, where we can all sit together and we can explore and contribute – everyone can contribute because, as I told you, our whole idea is to have stories. We can have texts that are not stories but, basically, our approach is to present everything through stories, so that the presentation is very interesting and people like to enter into it. This is the pedagogical aspect of the writing of the book. Everything that you prepare should be interesting. Now, we are only at the planning stage, as far as this aspect is concerned.
In this connection I have also, with the help of people in Auroville, prepared a kind of a syllabus, a curriculum. I am opposed to curricula, myself, but I am not opposed to making flexible programmes. A curriculum which is closed and which has got its own edges marked out, I don’t like. But there can be programmes, flexible programmes. So, a flexible programme of vital education which ultimately amounts to emphasis on the vital impulses and the methods by which vital impulses can be trained. It has physical aspects; it has mental aspects; it has spiritual aspects. All of them are to be taken into account, but the focus is vital education.
And, in this respect, a curriculum of vital education ultimately results in a very important education called character development. No character can be built unless you deal with vital education properly. This basic stuff of character development is a vital force. And no character development can be complete without spiritual education.