Sri Aurobindo Institute of Indian Culture. (SAIIC) Shillong workshop, 26,Oct -7 Nov, 2006 - 26. Spiritual Psychology versus Behaviourist Psychology for Teacher Training

What is the monthly expense that will be available at that time in 1981? I gave this proposal, so I said that every individual who joins, will get 150 rupees per month, for training. You will train the teachers at the expense of the Government of India.

And that was the big work that Mother had accomplished. I say accomplished because I am a witness to this personally of this great experiment, which has been conducted; I have been a participant of it from 1973 to 1978. I’ve been a participant in this great experiment which Mother conducted and accomplished. In 1972, I could declare to the world that we have invented a new system of education. This was my personal claim, and it is my personal claim that by 1972, Mother had invented, I don't even say discovered, it is invention because you cannot really present to the world unless you made some inventions. It required a tremendous effort of invention, and I will tell you the story of this invention because that is so exhilarating and you can see how much Mother devoted her time, energy in accomplishing this task. One of the greatest fulfillment of my personal life is that I have been a participant of this great experiment in education, which has never happened in the history of the world.

I was myself a student of education, right from the age of 14, because I was greatly influenced by the Gurukul system of Gurukul Kangri in my boyhood. My father wanted to send me to Gurukul Kangri at the age of seven or eight, which ultimately was not allowed, so it did not happen, but in my imagination I always lived in that Gurukul Kangri. So I made a good study of what is that Gurukul system. Then I came to study at the age of 15, Tagore on education and I told my parents that I have to go to Shanti Niketan for my education but they said they don't give degrees so you cannot go there. So I was prevented from going to Shanti Niketan. Then, from the age of 16 to 18, I studied in detail the Gandhian system of education. I read everything in detail, the whole principle of Gandhian system of education, and apart from this, I made lots of studies of education of what is in Plato, in the latest systems of education of east and west, I was constantly searching because as a student, I was totally dissatisfied with education that I was receiving.

It was one of my greatest fulfillments of life that when I came to Ashram in 1956, when I entered into the school building, I was a visitor at that time. I saw the school and on the entrance there was one very fine board and there was one sentence written by the Mother:'Do not scold, never'. I was so charmed. The greatest teacher of the world the Mother had said: ‘Do not scold, never’ ne gronde pas, jamais in French, ne grande do not scold and jamais means ‒ never. I was so happy that the greatest educationist in the world has given this advice to the world: do not scold the children.

Unless you make spiritual education the sovereign, you are bound to scold. This is my conclusion that if you really want your children not to be scolded, you have got to employ spiritual methods of developing your children. There is no other way. The children sometimes are so unreasonable, they are so insistent, they do their very things which are injurious to them and there is no method by which, (therefore parents, even very well-meaning parents) sometimes they scold, they beat because there's no other way. What can they do? But I found that if you have this principle, do not scold, never; if you start with a statement, you will require to develop all your spiritual powers to see that children are nourished right from the beginning in such a way they will not need to be scolded. If you have taken sufficient care, sufficient trust, because the most important thing is that trust between the parents and the child, this trust is extremely important and trust is not built in a day. It’s a long period in which the children will confess to these parents very sweetly, very honestly, without any fear, and will seek guidance if something which is wrong, which has been done. The child knows that it will not be resulting in a scolding or any kind of punishment.

As Sri Aurobindo said, the children sometimes have excessive energies, and if they seem to be mischievous, they will need to do so many things, pranks of various kinds. So Sri Aurobindo said they should not be regarded as vices. They should not be regarded as vices, they should be regarded as movements which are to be corrected, but corrected, it can't be taught how you talk to a child, how you will manage the thing, how will you explain to the child. And Mother said: never say you cannot explain to children. Everything Mother said can be explained to the children, provided you have the ability to explain; if you give an excuse, how to explain, I can't explain he doesn't understand. Well, that precisely is the problem, and education means that you have to find the ways and means by which you can explain to the children, ‒ what is the right thing, how it is to be done, with what motive it is to be done, with what steps it is to be done, and you should be so understanding that if the child is not able to implement it immediately, don't be impatient. You should give sufficient space to the children to make experiments, even to make mistakes, and to show that well, look this is a mistake now, don't repeat it and do it again and give the opportunity to children to improve. All this is a very patient and very painstaking work; it’s a sadhana by itself. As Mother said to bring the child on the earth is a spiritual activity because you are bringing a soul into a body and a soul has a destiny and wants to manifest. Every soul comes into a body for working out a certain development and therefore, it’s a very great responsibility to see that you create conditions for the child in which the soul grows in the right manner. Therefore, unless you have the sovereignty of spirituality, you cannot really integrate body, life and mind properly, but more of this later on.

In the Center of Education, first of all, all the teachers were appointed only if they are themselves doing spiritual sadhana. This is the first qualification that Mother laid down. Unless you are doing spiritual sadhana you cannot be a teacher. Now it's a very high demand and to say that if this is a model for the whole world, how can you have such schools at all, but that is the demand of the Mother. Every individual, if he has to be a true individual, has to be a spiritual sadhak. Whether you like it or not, human life is sadhana. This was also the great teaching of Tagore, who wrote a book on sadhana, one special book on sadhana is written.

What is the Gurukul system? The guru is a realised soul, a spiritualized soul and his life, is a life of sadhana in a Gurukul system. Therefore, to say that all teachers are simply to be qualified by this B.Ed and M.Ed, no harm in it, but a time must come when our entire teaching-learning process should be so developed that every teacher knows that to be a teacher, you must be a spiritual sadhak, you must be yourself in search of your own soul. You must learn how to make your soul the sovereign of your body, life and mind. Unless you do this, unless you are in this process, you can't be qualified to be a teacher. In any case, in this pioneering experiment, this is the first condition that Mother had laid down, and that is why we were able to conduct this experiment; every teacher had no other occupation than teaching. He had no domestic responsibilities. He had nothing to worry about earning and maintaining his life; Mother provided all that, you don't have to worry about small little things of your management of your life. At a grassroots level, your entire occupation must be with children who are given to your charge, and these children are to be looked after by you.

Once I had a great revolution in my mind, when I put a question to the Mother: Mother, what is the basic role of the teacher? I asked. So Mother told me, the basic role of the teacher is to observe the children. Not teaching, not instructing, the basic role of the teacher is to observe the children. A system of education in which the teacher does not have the chance to observe the children is by definition, a dysfunctional system. It is not fulfilling the real purpose of education. You come to a class and give lectures to the students, you don't know what the students are, whether they're listening or not, what their interests are. It’s a very artificial system. You should really know, you should observe, and a good teacher is one who observes very minutely.

A teacher observes the pupils who are sitting before him and sees with what eyes, see her eyes with so much of concentration she is listening. It’s a fact. There is so much of absorption in her eyes and one should appreciate it while observing, is not giving a lecture, you are actually entering into the very heart and soul of the children, and it is by observing that the true love for children emerges. The true love is not speaking affectionate words or petting the children, but it is to feel in depth that every child has a soul which is a sponge of honey. Every child is a sponge of honey and when the child is before you and near you, you treat the child as if that honeycomb is to be developed, and more and more sugary honey should develop in this child's consciousness. This should be the attitude of the teacher and when he observes the children, he must find out what is the distance between his surface consciousness and his inner soul, because there is always a distance in the beginning. Although Mother said that as far as children are concerned their souls are very much in the front and that's a marvellous statement of the Mother, that as far as children are concerned their souls are very much in the front. It is our artificial system of education, which sends away the soul very much into the background. But if you deal with children rightly, properly, right from the beginning, then you can give education to the children in such a way that this contact is never lost. Otherwise, you will see that many children by the age of 7 or 8, they pass a critical area. Suddenly, they feel they have lost something, they cannot express to you that they have lost something but you can see that movement there is some kind of haziness. Why? Because we have pumped into the child, certain cares and concerns, which are not conducive to the soul, and the soul is dissociated; therefore, the soul, which was here and all the activities which are going on in the front because of the soul's movement, suddenly because this pressure here is so great that it demands more and more and the soul withdraws, and when that happens, you can see psychology of modern children by the age of seven or eight they become unruly, they don't understand, they do not cooperate, there is a constant dislocation because they themselves do not know what is to be done? This is where guidance and a good teacher who understands and brings back a good teacher brings back the connection with the soul. Observation of the children, therefore, is of capital importance in education and the Mother put a great stress on this.

In fact, some of the problems which I used to take to the Mother and ask her about, very often Mother said, but teachers have psychological misunderstanding of the children. Teachers have psychological misunderstanding of the children, and this is about even some of the best teachers. Mother used to make these remarks; very learned teachers, very nice teachers, but Mother used to say, but they don't understand the children, therefore, the problems. If the teachers have this real psychological understanding, the problems won't arise. And then Mother used to say that the defects of your children are a good mirror. If you see the child is misbehaving, it means that there is in your own personality, misbehaviour, look for it, it's a mirror. If the child is misbehaving, that means something is in you, which is also misbehaving, not in the same way, not in the same concern but there is something in you which is also misbehaving. She said: you must find out that misbehaviour of your being and the moment you make that effort and that misbehaviour is amended, is like quantum physics.

In quantum physics, this is the modern discovery yesterday, Swami Jitatmananda ji was speaking of the 1986 experiment, which is called Bell's experiment. What is Bell's experiment? Bell's experiment is that you first of all take two atoms which are entangled with each other. Then you separate these two atoms and one you put one million miles on this side away, another one million lines miles on the other side; big distance, where even law of gravitation doesn't work. Then bombard that atom in a particular manner and you will see that even that the other will be bombarded automatically. Two entangled atoms separated by millions of miles, are so connected with each other that once you affect one the other instantaneously, it is called non-local relationship. Non-local locality doesn't matter at all. A non-local reaction takes place, that’s why they are surprised. What is matter? Where two atoms have really speaking, no local distance they behave as if they are on the same spot.

Similarly, between the child and the teacher, this is a non-local relationship and if you understand the child properly and if you feel there is a problem here; a child, for example, is in a state of confusion and he comes to you and says I am confused. Find out your own confusion. If a child comes to you with a confusion, it means there is some confusion in your mind, also somewhere. Not at the same point, you may be quite clear about this problem, but there must be some confusion somewhere, otherwise, this child will not come with this problem of confusion. Your own power of explanation will be such that in your presence the confusion will be dissipated. If your mind is really clear, in the presence of clarity, confusion automatically dissolves, it's a non-local relationship. Make clarity here, clarity will come automatically there or as soon as it comes in your presence clarity will go. That’s how many times, when there's a real guru and the pupil goes with the question and then the pupil says, but when I went, I had no questions. This is the experience of many, many pupils in this world. How does it happen? Because the teacher himself has resolved the problems, therefore, when you approach the teacher, you don't have questions, all resolved. This is one of the most fundamental principles of education. So it is not a juxtaposition of mind and spirit, it is the sovereignty of the spirit dealing with your mind, and dealing with the mind of the pupil, automatically, both are necessary and inevitable. These are very precious instruments that Mother has provided throughout the experiment. What I’m saying is only a few little surface gems, but we had an experience between 1958 and 1973, I have seen in my personal life, every day I was making progress, it’s a fact of my life. Every day, it was not a question of progress going on at intervals; it was a daily experience that every day I felt that, oh yesterday I was here, today I am now making a progress. Because every day Mother was bombarding, there was something coming from the Mother.

Actually, in 1960, Mother told Pavitra da, I am now putting my nose in education Mother said, in a kind of humorous way, I am putting my nose in education and I give you a warning that everybody in the school will be swept off his feet, so be prepared for it. And I tell you that in 1961, I was myself swept off of my feet and I will tell you how. In 1960, this is a starting of a one very big experiment. In 1960, the director of education of the Ashram Pavitra da, he had an experience, a spiritual experience in which he found that true knowledge comes only in a mind of silence. When the mind is silent, knowledge is like a lightening, it flashes and that is the right method of attainment of knowledge. This was the revelation made to him as it were his own spiritual path and suddenly, you know Pavitra da was one of the greatest mathematicians and an extremely powerful and able engineer, he was Polytechnician of France. Polytechnician in France means the highest education that one receives is called Polytechnician, so he had that highest education and therefore his knowledge of mathematics was super knowledge of mathematics, and he was teaching children mathematics from the class one, two, three. He had taught children in mathematics right from class one; as Mother herself was teaching how to read, the peacock and the frog and so on. Similarly, all the teachers had to do work of this kind.

We had one very, very great expert in history. He was at one time the Chief Consul General of India in Pondicherry, Sanat Kumar Banerjee, a master of history, and he would represent the Government of India in the Pondicherry government, because the government of Pondicherry at that time was the French government. He was Consul General of India in Pondicherry. He belonged to IFS ‒ Indian foreign service and then he resigned from that post to become a member of the Ashram and when he went to the Mother and said: Mother, what shall I do in the Ashram? So Mother said: now you teach and teach children of what class? Mother said: you teach class one. He was a master of history and Mother said: now you teach history to class one and then after one month he reported to the Mother that I am not teaching history. So Mother said: what are you teaching? So he said: I am teaching the story of Rama and Mahabharata. So Mother said: Ramayana and Mahabharata are not history.