The main objective of this study is to examine the educational insights of J. Krishnamurthy in the light of Integral Education philosophy of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother. In the first part of the article JK’s thoughts on education is discussed as it is without any reference to integral education. Only in the last section, JK’s thoughts are viewed in the light of integral education.
Key Perspectives: Aims and philosophy; approach and methodology; the integral view.
THE AIMS AND PHILOSOPHY
The teachings of J. Krishnamoorthy, JK as he is affectionately called by his admirers, rings with the immemorial dictum of the Delphic oracle: Know thyself. The first and foremost aim of education, according to JK, is self-knowledge, an integrated understanding of the whole of our self which leads to an integrated human being. The second aim which follows from the first is an integrated understanding of the whole of human life which leads to an integrated action.
Most of us live in fragments. We know only a tiny fragment of our total being and live in and act from that small part. Similarly we know only a small part of the totality of human life. So our being, life and action, all are fragmented. As a result, even our most noble and apparently “selfless” and altruistic actions lead to unintended mischief. We try to do what we think as good to a small segment of life we know. But we do not know the other segments or levels of life of which we are not aware. Sometimes what is good at one level for a segment of life may have harmful consequences at other levels or segments of life. So the main purpose of education is to heal this fragmentation and awaken the student to the wholeness of being, life and action. “The function of education” says JK “is to create human being who are integrated and therefore intelligent” and “without an integrated understanding of life our individual and collective problems will only deepen and extend”. So one of the major aims of education should be to awaken the individual to “have an integrated comprehension of life, which will enable him to meet its ever increasing complexities”.
The other important aspect of JK s educational philosophy is “You are the world.” The inner being and outer life of man form an indivisible and interdependent whole. The outer world is the expression of what we are within. So no amount of outer reformation through externalized methods of systems and organisation or moral or religious or the economic, political or social panaceas can solve the problems we are facing today. The only lasting and permanent solution to all human problem is the inner transformation of the human being through self-knowledge.
“If we are to change radically our present human relationship which has brought untold misery to the world, our only immediate task is to transform ourselves through self-knowledge. So we come back to the central point which is oneself; but we dodge that point and shift the responsibility on to government, religions and ideologies. The government is what we are, religions and ideologies are but a projection of ourselves; and until we change fundamentally there can be neither right education nor a peaceful world”
So the Individual, and not the system is the key to world transformation:
“Systems, whether educational or political are not changed mysteriously; they are transformed when there is a fundamental change in ourselves. The individual is of first importance not the system; and as long as the individual does not understand the total process of himself, no system, whether of the left or the right can bring order and peace to the world.”
THE APPROACH AND METHODOLOGY:
The Intellect, Skill and Intelligence
What is the path towards this higher understanding which will lead us to wholeness and transformation? Like all eastern spiritual thinkers, JK is categorical in denying the efficacy of the mere thought or intellect in solving human problem. In fact according to this modern seer, thought is part of the problem; it is one of the main causes of human misery. So mental development cannot be the primary aim of education:
“Education is not merely a matter of training the mind. Training makes for efficiency, but it does not make for completeness. A mind that has merely been trained is the continuation of the past, and such a mind can never discover the new. That is why, to find out what is right education we will have to enquire into the whole significance of life”
JK does not deny or reject the utility or necessity of mental knowledge for building or maintaining the outer machinery of life. But mental knowledge can not truly know the inner depth, essence and process of life. The philosophical mind may build theories and concepts about the aim of life. But that is not true knowledge because it solves nothing. Knowledge or knowing means the direct insight which dissolves all conflicts, resolves all problems and liberates us from sorrow and every form of inner and outer bondage. So JK summarily rejects the efficacy of every form of mental knowledge, lower and higher, in solving the deeper psychological and existential problems of humanity.
The thinking mind in man may be broadly classified into four categories. First is the pragmatic mind which brings skill and technique and leads to success in the outer life; second is the scientific and technological mind with its inventions and discoveries and which helps in the efficient utilization of the resources of nature; third is the scholarly mind eager for information; and the fourth is the philosophic and ideal mind which deals with abstract theories and indulges in dreamy ideals and utopias. None of these four parts of the thinking mind in man has the capability for solving the deeper and inner problems of humanity, like for example greed and violence which leads to war. But until now most of human education was focused on developing these parts of the thinking mind. This is one of the reasons why we as a race were never able to solve any of our basic inner or outer problems like violence and war, greed and poverty, inequality and exploitation.
But why it is so? What are the defects of the thinking mind in man? It is an imperfect instrument of understanding, conditioned by many limitations, some of them inherent to it and others imposed in it from other parts of our being. We will come to this subject of conditional mind, which is an important part of J.K’s educational thought, a little later. The second limitation is that the thinking mind is an expert in manipulating the surfaces and fragments of life but incapable of coming into direct contact with the essence and the wholeness of life. The third limitation is that most of the time it is not into harmony with the other faculties of consciousness like emotions or will or in other words it can not feel what it thinks.
So to create a better world, we need a new faculty which is free from these limitations. First of all it should be free from all conditioning; second it must have the capacity to come into direct contact with the essence and the totality of life; third there should be a harmony of thought, feeling and action. This higher faculty or understanding which has the “integrated comprehension of life” and “the capacity to perceive the essentials” is called by J.K variously as Intelligence, Awareness and Love.
J.K makes a clear distinction between Intellect and Intelligence.
“The intellect is satisfied with theories and explanation, but intelligence is not; and for the understanding of the total process of existence, there must be an integration of the mind and heart in action. Intelligence is not separate from love”
The other major defects of modern education on which JK comes down heavily is the emphasis on skill, technique and specialization. In our modern techno-commercial culture, an excessive importance is given to professional and technical skill which turns out specialists in a particular field of knowledge or vocation. Though such a training or education in skill may be necessary, it the entire focus of education is on skill, occupation and technique, neglecting the development of the other and more important parts of the mind which brings integration, wholeness, sensitivity, understanding refinement and love to human consciousness, then it leads to human being who are hollow and ruthless and a civilization which is devoid of true culture. Here is a memorable passages from JK which brings out forcefully the fallacy of the modern worship of skill, technique and efficiency.
“Present day education is a complete failure because it has over emphasized technique. In over emphasizing technique we destroy man. To cultivate capacity and efficiency without understanding life, without having a comprehensive perception of the ways of thought and desire, will only make us increasingly ruthless, which leads to wars and jeoparadise our physical security. The exclusive cultivation of technique has produced scientists, mathematicians, bridge-builders, space conquerors, but do they understand the total process of life. Can any specialist experience life as a whole?”
So neither the cultivation of intellect nor skill can lead to a better human being or a better world. The need of the hour in education is a new approach which awakens in the individual a sensitive and creative intelligence which can perceive the totality of life, sensitive to the deeper, subtler and higher truths and values of life and inwardly creative to solve all the inner problems and conflicts of the mind and life and liberates the human mind from its limitations. This doesn’t mean the cultivation of skill and the intellect has to be neglected or rejected. But the priority attention has to be given to those higher parts of the human being which brings integration and wholeness to our being and life. Skill and intellect may not be able to lead us to these higher aims of education but they are useful and sometimes necessary for a better organization of the outer life. So the cultivation of skill or the intellect should not be rejected or neglected but they have to be subordinated to the higher intelligence and its values. In fact the cultivation of skill or the intellect and the higher sensitivity are not mutually exclusive. For example interest in mathematics and sensitivity to the beauty of nature can be developed simultaneously without any conflict between them.
“If I neglect the inner and accentuate technology, whatever I do will be one sided. So I must find a way, I must bring about a movement which will cover both. So far we have separated the two and having separated we have emphasised the one and neglected the other. What we are now trying to do is to join both of them. If there is proper education, the student will not treat them as two separate fields. He will be able to move in both as one movement….. In making himself technologically perfect, he will also make himself a worthwhile human being”. So to deal effectively with our modern fast-changing technological world, faculties which lead to efficiency and skill and the higher faculties which bring harmony, wholeness, integration and values to our inner being and outer life, both have to be cultivated together, but with a clear understanding of the role and relative importance of each faculty for realizing the higher aims of life and education.
Deconditioning the Mind:
The next question is how or what is the right approach or path to this higher faculty or understanding. The first step is to free the mind from all its inherent and imposed conditioning. As we have said elsewhere, according to JK and most of the spiritual traditions of the world, our human mind is a conditioned entity. A large part of the dialogues, discussions and writings of JK deals with the nature and process of conditioning and the factors of conditioning like fear and violence, ambition, desire for power and domination and also for security, dependence on authority (secular and spiritual), tradition, dogma, belief. But the source of all these conditioning is the self, the sense of I and Me, the ever-separative ego and its acquisitive and self seeking desires and ambitions:
“We never see that we are the total environment because there are several entities in us, all revolving around the ‘me’, the self. The self is made up of these entities which are merely desires in various forms. From this conglomeration of desires arises the central figure, the thinker, the will of the ‘me’ and the environment or society. This separation is the beginning of conflict inward and outward”.
It will be beyond the scope of this article to go into JK’s deep, penetrating and insightful analysis of the structure of our conditioning. However, from the point of view of education, what is more important is the JK’s unorthodox approach to the process of deconditioning the mind.
The usual approach of most of the traditional, moral, religious and spiritual disciplines towards the problem is based on the concept of purification of the mind by a forceful rejection of all that is considered as impure like greed and lust and the cultivation of virtues like non-violence and charity. But according to JK, such an approach leads only to the suppression of the outer form of evil at the surface level while the roots of it remain unchanged at the subconscious depths. So JK is critical of all forms of enforced discipline. The true approach to deconditioning, according to JK, is a comprehensive insight into the entire structure of conditioning. As JK explains to a group of children:
“Look, you are violent or greedy and you want to change yourself into a person who is not greedy. Not wanting to be greedy is another form of greed, isn’t it? Do you see that, But if you say I am greedy, I will find out what it means, why I am greedy what is involved in it’, then, when you understand greed, you will be free of greed. Do you understand what I am talking about …… Let me explain; I am greedy and I struggle, fight, make tremendous effort not to be greedy. I have already an idea, a picture, and an image of what it means not to be greedy. So I am conforming to an idea which I think is non-greed. You understand? Whereas if I look at my greed, the structure of greed, then, when I begin to understand all that, I am freed of greed. Therefore, freedom from greed is something entirely different from tying to become non-greedy”
But we must remember here that understanding which JK hare was talking about is not an intellectual understanding, but an inner experiential and emotional understanding which comes from direct contact with the very essence, structure, energy and vibration of thing and all its consequences without any mental veil. One of JK’s favourite images is, when we are in front of a poisonous snake, we don’t ask how not to touch the snake or how to get away from it. We just simply don’t touch it and run away from it. So when the inner conditioning is felt and experienced with the same sense of urgency, it is dissolved at the roots.
The next question is how to arrive at this deeper insight or awakening. Hare comes one of the most important and central aspect of JK’s teaching. The process of “Choiceless Awareness” which means to be conscious attentive, alert, sensitive to all our inner movements without any choice, preference or attachment, identification, justification, condemnation, judgment, comparison, labeling or mental verbalization and the gloss of ideas and ideals.
“Take things easily, but inwardly with fullness and alertness. Don’t let a moment slip by without being fully aware of what is happening inwardly and about you. Often this is what is to be sensitive, not to one ore two things but to everything — as you watch you will perceive that the mind is always judging people, comparing, weighing, calculating. The mind is everlastingly restless. Can the mind watch, observe, without naming? Just see if the mind can do it. Play with this, don’t force it. Let it watch itself.”
The choiceless awareness may be defined as knowing or observation without thought or the interference by the thinking mind. It means to know things, not by thought but by the essential awareness of the mind. To do this, the thinking mind, especially the mechanical, repetitive, verbalizing and judgmental mind, has to fall silent, not by a forced discipline, but by a clear understanding in this part of the mind itself of the futility of thought.
In this practice of awareness, JK emphasised much on relationship. The essence of life is relationship. “Relationship is a mirror in which the self and all its activities can be seen; and it is only when the ways of the self are understood in the reactions of relationship that there is creative release from self.”
Awareness grows not in isolated meditation in closed rooms but by watching our inner movements and reaction in our dynamic interaction or relationship with the life around us… with people, ideas, things, events, situations and Nature.
JK laid a strong emphasis on observation of Nature and the appreciation of the beauty of Nature: “There is no right relationship to anything if there is not the right feeling for beauty, a response to Nature”. But the awareness has to be sensitized not only to physical Nature but also to the surrounding human environment. So unlike many spiritual traditions which preached a predominantly ascetic discipline, JK taught a more balanced approach with an equal emphasis on the inner as well as the outer world, and in the outer world not only the physical Nature but also the life of man.
“Aware means to be sensitive, to be alive, to the things about one, to nature, to people, to colour, to the trees, to the environment, to the social structure, to the whole thing, to be aware outwardly of all that is happening and to be aware of what is happening inside. To be aware is to be sensitive, to know, observe, what is happening inside psychologically and also what is happening environmentally, economically and socially and so on. If one is not aware of what is happening outwardly and one begins to be aware inwardly then one becomes rather neurotic. But if one begins to be aware of what is exactly happening in the world, as much as possible, and then from there moves inwardly, then one has a balance”
Concentration and Attention
There are some unorthodox elements in JK’s teachings which need careful consideration by modern educators. The Indian religious and spiritual tradition emphasized much on one-pointed and exclusive concentration as the most effective method of inner development. JK is perhaps the first spiritual teachers who question this traditional Indian method. JK argues that an exclusive concentration dulls the mind and makes it insensitive to the totality of life around.
For example someone who is exclusively concentrated on his work is insensitive to the people around. Some of his friends may be waiting in front of him to talk with him but he is insensitive to their living presence. According to JK, what leads to a refined and sensitive intelligence is not concentration but “Attention”, an alert, subtle, all-inclusive and choiceless awareness of all that is and happening within and around us, our own inner world of thought, feelings and reactions and also all the subtle nuances of the life and nature around us, like the light and shade, sight and sounds, beauty and the ugliness, misery and the smile. It is such a sensitive and all embracing awareness which leads to consideration and love for people and nature.
“Do you know what it means to attend, to pay attention? When you pay attention, you see things much more clearly. You hear the bird singing much more distinctly. You differentiate between various sounds. When you look at a tree with a great deal of attention, you see the whole beauty of the tree. You see the leaves, the branch, you see the wind playing with it. When you pay attention, you see extraordinarily clearly, have you ever done? Attention is very different from concentration. When you concentrate, you don’t see everything. But when you are paying attention you see a great deal. Now, pay attention. Look at that tree and see the shadow, the slight breeze among the leaves. See the shape of the tree. See the proportion of the tree in relation to other trees. See the quality of light that penetrates through the leaves, the light on the branches and the trunk. See the totality of the tree.”
And when a student asked JK “If you are sensitive, do you not think you are apt to become emotional”, JK replied:
“What is wrong with being emotional? When I see those poor people living in poverty, I feel very strongly, is that wrong? There is nothing wrong in feeling, emotion when you see the squalor, the dirt, the poverty around you. But you also feel strongly if another says something ugly about you. When this happens what will you do? Because of your emotion will you hit back at him? Or because you are sensitive, emotional, will you be aware of what you are going to do? If there is an interval before your response and you observe, are sensitive to it, then in that interval intelligence comes in. Allow that interval; in it begin to watch. If you are tremendously aware of the problem, there is instant action and that instant action is the right action of intelligence”
The other aspect of the traditional approach on which JK turned his critical eye is the pursuit of an ideal. Most of the traditional methods of education encourage the student to have and pursue an ideal. But according to JK pursuit of an ideal leads to a delusory and dreamy escape into the future and prevents the clear understanding of “what is” The idealist lives more in “what ought to be” than on what is”. His thought is moulded by the “ought to be” which he may express in profound and beautiful speech or the word. But what he is in his feelings and emotions may not conform to what he wants to be in his thought. This contradiction is well-illustrated by the following episode. A great yogi was shown a poem written by his brother. After reading the poem, the yogi made the following comment” The first two lines of the poem are very beautiful and living because he has written what he feels. The other lines are also beautiful but have no life because here he says what he ought to feel and not what he actually feels.” Sometimes what he is in his feelings may be dark and ugly, something exactly opposite to the ideal in his thought. But he is satisfied in holding the ideal in his thought and this prevents him from confronting himself as he is. The more beautiful, the “ought to be” in thought, and greater the satisfaction or attachment to the ideal, more the reluctance or lack of courage in looking at” “what is” and the urge to escape from it.
So the way to true inner awakening lies not in the pursuit of an idealized chimera of the future but on a deep understanding of the fact of our day today life like the violence, fear, and jealousy, pursuit of power, wealth and pleasure and all the intricate and subtle ways of our conditioned mind so, JK concludes:
“Ideals have no place in education for they prevent the comprehension of the present. Surely we can be aware of what is only when we do not escape into the future”
On Will and Action
Almost all the teachers or gurus of self-development stressed on the importance of will and the development of will for success in life as well as for spiritual development. But JK views the problem of will in a different perspective.
The normal psychological process by which will and action is generated in a human being is, first understanding in the mind or intelligence; second choice of the course of action based on the understanding; third persistent application of the force of will over the vital and the dynamic faculties of action based on the choice, until the chosen course of action is fulfilled or has realized its aim. But JK’s approach aims at bypassing the will by a direct and spontaneous action of the intelligence on the faculties of action. For example when we are in the presence of a poisonous cobra, action proceeds not from a deliberate choice and will but spontaneously from the immediate understanding and urgency of the danger. Similarly when the understanding of our conditioning and its consequences are sufficiently concrete, urgent, vital and experiential , then the liberative action proceeds spontaneously and immediately from that understanding without any intermediary of the will or in other words there is no sense of willing.
On Freedom and Discipline:
One of the greatest challenges in education is to reconcile freedom with discipline. The traditional methods of education laid much stress on discipline especially on an enforced discipline by the teacher or the parent. JK accepts the need for discipline but it should be reconciled but with the need for freedom. There can not be true learning without freedom but giving freedom does not mean that the child is allowed to do whatever he likes. There must also be order and discipline. But it should not be an imposed discipline enforced on the child through a system of reward and punishment or a set of strict rules. It must be a spontaneous discipline which comes from an inner understanding of the need for it and an inner reconciliation of these two apparently contradictory principles. This understanding dawns when the child or student become fully sensitive to the fact that our freedom cannot be absolute because we are related to others and we are part of the interdependent unity or connectedness of the life and people around us:
“The student must be free. Otherwise he cannot be sensitive. If he is not free in the study of mathematics, enjoying mathematic, giving his heart to it, which is freedom, he cannot study it adequately….That means I must help that boy to be free. Freedom implies order, freedom does not mean allowing the boy to do what he likes, to come to lunch and to class when he likes….. I would like him to be free and yet the same times have order and discipline, without conformity… Therefore one asks, how can we help that boy or girl to be free completely and yet highly disciplined, not through fear, not through conformity, not partially free but completely free and yet, highly discipline at the same time. They both go together…. You can not do what you like because you are always in relationship in life with others. See the necessity of being completely free and yet highly disciplined without conformity.”
Now how are we to do this? The solution lies in the teacher. The teacher must first realise this synthesis between freedom and discipline, not as an idea in the mind but as a living inner experience and communicate this experience to the child silently as well as through words, action and behaviour, like for example, to the punctual in coming to the class:
“Because you are free and understand freedom, you will be punctual in your class and from freedom you will talk to the student and not from an idea….. when you as a teacher are free and orderly, you are already communicating it, not only verbally but non-verbally and the student knows it immediately”
Religious and Spiritual Education
The other important aspect of education on which there is at present much debate is religious or spiritual education. The traditional approach, especially in ancient India, is to give the student some spiritual ideas on God or the supreme, to dwell and contemplate upon it with his mind. But, according to JK, such an approach will only entrap the mind of the student in fixed dogma and belief. The only safe and effective approach to spiritual education is to help the student to free his mind from belief and dogma, fear and hope, inculcate the spirit of enquiry and questioning and the quest for truth in every activity of life. He should not be given or forced into any fixed spiritual ideas. He must be allowed and guided to arrive at fundamental questions, religious or spiritual on God or ultimate truth, through a process of free enquiry. When the mind is free from belief and dogma and is constantly enquiring into the truth of things, a stage will come when it begins to ask questions on God or the supreme Reality. At this stage, when the student asks questions on God, it is a living and burning question, emerging through a process of free enquiry and evolution. And the teacher can gently guide the student to find the answer by himself. The answer is likely to be more true than the one arrived through the traditional methods.
“Our so-called religious training discourages questioning and doubt, yet it is only when we enquire into the true significance of the values which society and religion has placed about us that we begin to find out what is true”
“If the child’s mind and heart are not moulded by religious pre-conceptions and prejudices, then he will be free to discover through self-knowledge what is above or beyond himself. True religion is not a set of beliefs and rituals, hopes and fears; and if we can allow the child to grow up without these hindering influences, then perhaps, as he matures he will begin to inquire into the nature of reality, of God”
“True religious education is to help the child to be intelligently aware, to discern for himself, the temporary and the real, and to have a disinterested approach to life…. If those who are young have the spirit of enquiry, if they are constantly searching out the truth of all things, political and religious, personal and environmental then youth will have great significance and there is hope for a better world. (p. 38 – 41)
Methods of Teachings:
We are now brought to the most “practical” questions asked by most people. Does JK’s approach to education has any specific methods or technique? True education, according to JK, has no specific method, technique, system or ideal. It is easy to follow a pre-fixed method but more difficult to allow the child to grow towards self-knowledge and wholeness in an environment of freedom, understanding, love and affection. True education has to make this more difficult attempt. What is infinitely more important than method is to observe each child in his uniqueness, like his special aptitudes and interests and lovingly guide him to discover by himself the truth of his own being and the world around. To do this the teacher must be himself constantly in a state of discovery, enquiry and experiencing whatever he wants to convey to the child. For example if the teacher want to inculcate the spirit of enquiry in the child, he himself must be constantly in a state of enquiry, whatever method or technique he uses, must raise spontaneously from his inner experience and a deep insight, love and understanding of the child.
”The right kind of education is not possible enmasse. To study each child requires patience, alertness and intelligence. To observe the child’s tendencies, his aptitudes, his temperament, to understand his difficulties, to take into account his heredity and parental influence and not merely regard him as belonging to a certain category — all this calls for a swift and pliable mind, untrammeled by any system or prejudice. It calls for skill, intense interest and above, a sense of affection and to produce educators endowed with these qualities is one of our major problems today. The spirit of individual freedom and intelligence should pervade the whole school at all times.”
“To understand a child we have to watch him at play, study him in his different moods; we cannot project upon him our own prejudices, hopes and fears, or mould him to fit the pattern of our desire. If we are constantly judging the child according to our personal likes and dislikes we are bound to create barriers and hindrances in our relationship with him and in his relationship with the world.”
“The integrated human being will come to technique through experiencing, for the creative impulse makes its own technique — and that is the greatest art when a child has the creative impulse to paint, he paints, he does not bother about technique. Likewise people who are experiencing and therefore teaching are the only real teachers, and they too will create their own technique”
“We started by asking how to communicate this sense of enquiry into thinking, into motive, to the student…. Now, if you have not examined your thinking, the mechanism of thinking, to convey the sense of enquiry to the student is impossible. But if you have done it your self, you are bound to create the atmosphere”
The main problem in bringing a radical change in education lies not in the institution, methods or the child but in the teacher. The key to success in creating a new paradigm of education lies in constant reeducation and self-education of the teacher. The teacher has to be constantly in a state of enquiry and inner transformation or renewal, to create the right atmosphere and sustain the process of free and creative growth.
“The right kind of education begins with the educator, who must understand himself and be free from established patterns of thought, for what he is, that he imparts. If he has not been rightly educated what can he teach except the same mechanical knowledge on which he himself has been brought up?. The problem, therefore is not the child, but the parent and the teacher; the problem is to educate the educator” (100)
The JKF School:
Finally, how these principle of education or teaching are put into practices in the school or classroom. There are schools run by J Krishnamoorthy Foundation (JKF) which are making the attempt to put the educational teachings of JK into practice. The main factors which are emphasised in JKF schools are self-awareness, sensitivity in the beauty of nature, enquiry and understanding of the environment. First is self-awareness, students are taught to observe themselves their thoughts, feelings and reaction, and discover the process by which mind gets trapped into belief and dogma, authority and tradition, and the negative reactions like fear and violence. Second is observation of Nature, the tree, sky, clouds, and the falling leaf the light and shade. Third is enquiry into the truth of things without any preconceived notions or faith or belief and sceptical questioning of all established notions or values. The fourth is to give an experiential understanding of the outer social and economic environment. As a teacher of the JKF schools writes:
“Today it is becoming increasingly important for youngsters to experience what they know. It is also becoming increasingly difficult to put this into practice in any significant way within the structure and focus of most schools. It is the fact of this scenario that the JKF school initiates for std XI every year, a two-weak trip to a place of social significance. The choice of place is governed by the issue of social significance that lends itself to both immediate and long-term learning. In this way students of std XI in the school have ‘borne witness’ to the struggles as diverse as the displacement of communities along the narmada, the regeneration of rivers in alwar, the fishermen’s struggles in Kerala and the problems faced by Dalits in Tamil Nadu” (The Hindu, Young World, Friday, June 10, 2005)
THE INTEGRAL VIEW
We have made a sweeping survey of JK’s educational thought. Let us now examine JK’s teachings on Education in the light of the integral view. The first and the greatest strength of JK’s paradigm on education is its strong and predominant emphasis on self-knowledge. Though self-knowledge is stressed upon in all great and matured spiritual traditions, it has not been put forward with such prominence in education as it is done with JK’s thought on education. This emphasis on self-knowledge is very much needed in our modern age where most of education was focused on externalized learning of the facts of the outer life and world. We pride ourselves in knowing about the contours of moon and mars when we know not what we are in our essence and totality.
The second positive feature of JK’s teaching is the stress on integration, wholeness and sensitivity; integration of the mind and heart; insistence on the need to understand the total process of life; stress on developing the higher intelligence which is sensitive to the higher values of life-like freedom, order, truth, beauty, harmony and wholeness. This emphasis is also very much needed in our present age in which narrow and divisive specialization in thought and education has resulted in a fragmented approach to life and a utilitarian. Civilisation with value-neutral culture.
The Third aspect of JK’s thought on education which has a great relevance for the present and future world is that education is viewed not as a system of external learning or knowledge obtained through books, classroom and the school but as a process of inner awakening to the deeper truth of life in and through the daily experiences of life and in direct relationship with life. This inner spiritual awakening through the experiences of life is likely to be the educational paradigm of the future.
All these ideals of education expounded by JK are part of the higher truths and aims of education. They are also very much in harmony with the ideal of integral education. For example Mother emphasized so much on self-knowledge through self-observation:
“To become conscious of the various movements in oneself and be aware of what one does and why one does it, is the indispensable starting point. The child must be taught to observe, to note his creations and impulses and their causes, to become a discerning witness of his desires, his movements of violence and passion, his intendant of possession and appropriation and domination and the back-ground of vanity which support them, together with their counter part of weakness, discouragement, depression and despair.”
Similarly integration or unification of the physical, vital, and mental being around the spiritual centre of the human being is one of the primary aim of integral education. And the aim of knowledge in integral education is to raise beyond reason which “divided, fixes details and contrasts them” to wisdom which “unifies, marries contrasts in a single harmony” and “sees the point where all apparently contradictory things harmonise, complement each others, form a perfectly coherent, coordinated whole” (10, 18-19). And in Sri Aurobindo and Mother’s vision, integral education is inseparable from integral yoga which is a process of concentrated and accelerated inner awakening though the experiences of life. Sri Aurobindo, describing one of the major characteristics of the process of integral yoga, writes: “ the divine power in us uses all life as the means of this integral yoga. Every experience and outer contact with our world-environment, however trifling or however disastrous is used for the work and every inner experience even to the most repellant suffering or the most humiliating fall, becomes a step on the path to perfection.”
When we move from principles and ideals to the methods of practice, JK’s way of “Choiceless Awareness” is probably one of the most balanced and effective method of inner awakening, especially for those who are predominantly cognitive by nature and have well-developed cognitive faculties. And JK’s emphasis on free growth and the need to reconcile freedom with discipline. …. necessity of basing the methods on a close and insightful observation of the uniqueness of the learner. …importance of the teacher’s inner condition, experience or realization in communication what he wants to convey to the child….constant self-education.…. of the teacher…. all these are principle or practices which are indispensable for realising the higher aims of education and are very much part of the integral view.
Let us for example take the principle of freedom. The system of practice in integral education is called the “free progress” system, which Mother defines as: “a progress guided by the soul and not subjected to habits, convention or preconceived ideas”.
The soul in integral education is the spiritual principle beyond the Body and Mind. This spiritual element is not accepted in JK’s thought. We will come to this subject a little later when we discuss the differences between the integral and JK’s system of education. However, the emphasis on free growth is more or less the same in JK’s and integral system of education. But in integral education, the primary importance given to the spiritual principle gives perhaps a different connotation to the concept of freedom.
In JK”s system freedom means freedom for the child to enquire, explore and learn according to its interest and aptitudes without any imposition of preconceived ideas or systems of the teacher. In integral education this is accepted as an integral part of freedom. When a teacher asked about a plan of activities which he wants to give to the children, the Mother replied “do not enforce too rigidly your method because the children like to be free and spontaneous in their movement and this freedom is good for their growth”. However in integral education, freedom means something more than this outer liberty. It is an inner liberty to live in harmony with the deeper law, will and guidance of the soul or the spiritual centre of our being. But someone who is a slave of all the fancies, desires, impulses or weaknesses of his body, life or mind is not free to follow the dictates of his soul. As Mother explains:
“The freedom of which I speak is the freedom to follow the soul’s will and not that of mental and vital whims and fancies. The freedom of which I speak is an austere truth which tends to surmount all weaknesses and desires of the lower, ignorant being The freedom of which I speak is the freedom to consecrate oneself entirely and without reserve to one’s highest, noblest and the most divine aspiration.”
So this higher freedom cannot be realised without a discipline and mastery over the habits, desires, weaknesses and the passing whims, fancies and impulse of our physical, vital and mental ego. Thus, discipline is not the opposite of this higher and inner freedom but an dispensable condition for realising it. When asked “How to reconcile the individual’s claim for freedom with the collectivity’s need for unity and order”, Mother replied: “Freedom is far from meaning disorder and confusion. It, is the inner liberty that one must have, and if I have it nobody can take it from you”
As in JK’s thought, in integral education also great emphasis is laid on uniqueness of each child and guiding him according to his special and specific aptitudes and interests. This requires careful and insightful observation of the child. As Mother explains
“The teacher should not be a book that is read aloud, the same for every one, no matter what his nature and character. The first duty of the teacher to helps the student to know himself and discover what he is capable of doing.
For that one must observe his games, the activities to which he is drawn naturally and spontaneously and also what he likes to learn, whether his intelligence is awake, the stories he enjoys, the activities which interest him the human achievement which attract him.
The teacher must find out the category to which each of this children in his care belongs and if after careful observation he discovers two or three exceptional children who are eager to learn and who love progress, he should help them to make use of their energies for this purpose by giving them the freedom of choice that encourages individual growth.
The old method of the seated class to which the teacher gives the same lesson for all, is economical and easy, but also very ineffective, and so much time is wasted for everybody.”
For example, if a child is not interested in intellectual studies but shows aptitude and skill for practical work with hands, he should be given the freedom to pursue his interest.
“….this freedom of choice can be given to all the children, and after all it is a good way to find their true nature; but most of them may prove to be lazy and not very interested in studies . But on the other hand, they may be skilled with their hands and be willing with their hands and be willing to make things. This too should be encouraged. In this way children will find their true place in society and will be prepared to fulfill them when they grow up.”
Integral education, as in JK’s thought, lays much stress on the inner condition of the teacher. For example, if the teacher can not hope to have much control over the students of his class if he has no control over himself. When a teacher asked the Mother “To control and discipline them (the students), what one should one do” Mother said categorically “you can’t” and explained further:
“But how can you hope…. Let us see, you have an in disciplined, disobedient, insolent pupil; well, that represent a certain vibration in the atmosphere very contagious; but if you yourself do not have within you the opposite vibration, vibration of discipline, order, humility of a quietude and peace which nothing can disturt, how do you expect to have an influence. You are going to tell him that this should not be done — Either that will make things worse or he will make fun of you” ….And if by chance you don’t have any control over yourself and become angry, then it is finished you loose for ever all possibility of exercising authority over your students”.
These are some of the areas in which JK’s thoughts on education and integral education, converage. But there are also differences and divergences between them. Let us now look at these divergences.
JK’s educational philosophy does not admit any soul-principle beyond the body and mind. But in integral education, this soul-principle or “psychic being” is the most important and central factor in education. The philosophy of integral education conceives the human being as a four gold organism with the physical, vital, mental and spiritual dimension. The psychic being is the spiritual dimension in man. It is the innermost core of the human being, the true self in man and the source of all higher values and aspiration in man for truth, beauty, goodness, harmony, unity, freedom and love. So the first and the most fundamental aim of integral education is to awaken the psychic being in the child and make it the conscious governor of his inner being and outer life. When this is done, and the child is able to live in conscious communion with the psychic being or establish contact with his psychic whenever he wants it, then from that moment, the learner doesn’t need any external education. He has awakened to the unfailing inner Teacher within him. So not only to awaken this psychic being but also to organize the physical, vital and mental being around the psychic centre is the aim of integral education.
JK’s system of education lays a predominant emphasis on cognitive faculties and cognitive methods like intelligence, choiceless awareness, enquiry and skeptical questioning. But integral education does not place any particular emphasis on cognitive faculties or methods. Each child or student has to be guided gently and freely according to his / her unique aptitudes and interests and predominant temperament. qualities and faculties. Not all children or students have the inclination for cognitive activity or enquiry tending towards knowledge, studies or thinking. Some children may be more emotional than cognitive, tending towards a feeling experience of life through love and devotion, beauty and joy or harmonious relationship. They will reach knowledge not through the cognitive faculties but through their emotional faculties. Similarly there may be other children who are more dynamic and active with an inclination towards work or service or adventure and exploration. The teacher has to carefully observe the typal nature and temperamental inclinations of the child and guide him accordingly. For example if a child has a deep and spontaneous love, devotion and faith in God, he should not be forced into a path of intellectual or psychological enquiry. He has to be encouraged and guided to progress in the path of faith and devotion to God and pursue that inner feeling to its source.
But in the path of integral education, pursuit of individual uniqueness or interest should not be allowed to move in a direction of exclusive specialisation or one sided development. That will be contrary to the very aim of integral education. We must also remember that no individual is exclusively of a particularly type. Some aspect, quality, faculties of the total being like the cognitive, emotional or dynamic may dominate the personality giving a unique temperamental inclination to the individual psyche. But other faculties were equally present, either suppressed or subordinated to the dominant power. In fact in a free progress system of integral education, many of the powers or faculties of the student may develop simultaneously, especially in the later stages of growth. But some of faculties may develop faster than others or the student may show inclination to a certain set of activities or interests which leads to a greater or faster development of the corresponding faculties. For example a child which displays a spontaneous love, devotion or faith in God, when he is allowed to grow in freely in this line, his emotional faculties will develop faster than others. But such child may also develop an interest in the study of religion, philosophy, art, or literature which will develop his cognitive or aesthetic faculties. Similarly a student of active or pragmatic temperament who takes up aeromodelling may also develop an interest in the study of science and technology of aeronautics. Such development of related interest may not happen always. But an intelligent and observant teacher can make it happen by guiding the child in the right direction.
In JK’s system of education, the central emphasis is on developing the essential awareness or consciousness of the mind but above thought. And JK’s method of choiceless awareness is perhaps one of the most effective methods for developing the awareness. But integral education lays an equal emphasis on developing the instruments of consciousness like thought, feeling, vital force, sensations, will, aesthetic sense and dynamic faculties of action and execution, other powers of creative self-expression in word and speech, and finally the physical instrument, the body.
The essential awareness of the mind has to be disengaged from the turmoil and activity of the instruments. It has to become something like a still, silent and transparent mirror observing and registering all that is and all that is happening within and around us impartially without any personal reactions, knowing things as they are without any distortions created by personal desires, preferences and prejudices. It must also learn to receive whatever intuitions and inspirations from the higher realms of consciousness above the mind in a receptive silence. But along with awareness, the instruments of consciousness, and their powers, qualities and faculties, should also be fully developed, so that the insights and perceptions of consciousness find a rich and many fold expression in the outer life. As Mother explains:
“There are two things to be considered: consciousness and the instruments through which consciousness manifests. Let us take the instruments: There is the mental being which produces thoughts, the emotional being which produces feelings and the physical being that acts.
“The man of genius may use may use anything at all and make something beautiful because he has genius; but give this genius a perfect instrument and he will make something wonderful. Take a great musician; well, even with a wretched piano and missing notes, he will produce something beautiful; but give him a good piano, well-tuned and he will do something still more beautiful. The consciousness is the same in ether case but for expression it needs a good instrument – a body with mental, vital, psychic and physical capacities.
“If physically you are badly built, badly set up, it will be difficult for you, even with a good training, to do gymnastics as well as one with a beautiful well-built body. It is the same with the mind — one who has a well-organised mind, complex, complete, refined, will express himself much better than one who has a mediocre and badly organized mind. First of all you must educate your consciousness, become conscious of yourself, organize your consciousness according to your ideal, but at the same time do not neglect the instruments which are in your body”
In developing the instruments of consciousness, the integral view gives as much importance to the development of the physical instrument, the body, as the other two instruments mind and the vital. JK recognised the importance of physical exercises like Asanas and breathing exercises like pranayama for keeping the mind-body organism in a state of wholesome health. For in JK’s thought human organism is an organic whole of body and mind. So lack of health or disturbance in the body affects the Mind. And conversely a healthy body helps in bringing health and clarity to mind. JK also recognised that our human body has an intelligence of its own.
These insights of JK are very much in harmony with that of the integral approach. However, the aim of physical education in the integral view goes beyond physical and mental health.
Education of the body, in the integral approach, has a three fold purpose: first is of course health. For body is the physical foundation on which all other higher realisation of the mind or spirit has to be built. Our physical foundation has to be sufficiently healthy and strong to hold and express without breaking or spilling the higher forces and energies of the vital, mind or spirit.
The second aim is to awaken the intelligence inherent in the body. In the integral view, our human body is as much an expression of consciousness as our vital and mental being. So our body has a consciousness of its own with an intelligence which knows instinctively what is good for its health and development. The natural instinct of our bodily intelligence is stifled by the thoughts and desires of our vital and mortal being. When body is left free from the interference of our mental notions and vital desire, it knows instinctively what is good for its growth. So to awaken this instinctive intelligence in the body has to be one of the higher aims of physical education.
The third and the highest aim of physical education is to make the body into a conscious instrument of the spirit. As we have said earlier our body is an expression of the consciousness of the spirit. In our present condition, our body is the least conscious part of our being; it is mostly buried in the subconscious layers of our being and driven by subconscious instincts. The highest aim of physical education is to make the body aware of itself as the conscious expression of the spirit.
All these aims of physical education has to be achieved by a system of physical exercises done with consciousness, concentration and attention, infusing more and more consciousness into the body.
But regular physical exercises are only one aspect of physical education. The other aspect is to bring every activities of the body like for example walking, climbing the steps or lifting thing to the increasing attention of our consciousness.
One of the most controversial aspects of JK’s teachings is his vehement criticism or rejection of many of the principles and methods of traditional spiritual disciplines like concentration, ideal or the development of will. But the philosophy of integral education takes the view that none of the ideas, or methods which were development during the past and present history of human evolution should be rejected out right because of the defects and degenerations in its practice. JK’s criticism of the traditional methods and practices brings out some of the pitfalls in them. But these pitfalls or defects may not be something organic or inherent in them. They can be avoided or eliminated through a more alert, conscious and enlightened approach and practice. As we have indicated elsewhere, JK’s approach tends towards a predominantly cognitive approach to educational problem and seem to ignore that individuals vary in nature, capacity temperament and the stage of evolution. For example, not many can dissolve all their conditioning and negativities in them through an instantaneous and penetrating cognition or insight cognition or insight of understanding. Most of us need for our moral and spiritual progress, some form of an ethical and psychological discipline like the one prescribed in the yoga sutra of pathanjali, Yama and Nigamas, rejecting negativities like anger, violence, and greed and cultivating virtues like kindliness. This requires the development of will-power. When there is no strength in the will, we will be like what Duryodhana says in Mahabharata: “I know what is Dharma but I am not able to live it”
However Mother points out to a deeper truth behind the weakness of will which corresponds somewhat to JK’s views. According to Mother, all weaknesses, when we look into the deeper roots of it, are insincerities. I am weak in will because I have not made a sufficiently sincere resolution in my will to be strong. I am unable to reject the weakness because somewhere in a little corner of my vital consciousness which is the source of inner dynamism and energy, I am attached to the weakness and un-willing to reject it. So the weakness of will is not entirely due to lack of strength in the will but also due to un-willingness. This means, someone with a well-developed and enlightened cognitive faculties and the capacity for deep introspection, can dissolve all the weaknesses and negativities in his thought, feeling or will by entering into the root and depth of the weakness, the dark spot of attachment to falsehood lurking somewhere in a little corner of his subconscious, and burning it in the searing flame of awareness. Such a person with highly advanced cognitive faculties in which intelligence and will are to fused in an identity doesn’t require the services of a developed ethical will for his moral and spiritual development.
However as we have repeatedly emphasized, very few of us have such an advanced cognitive faculties. Most of us have to pass through a stage of ethical discipline of the will. Here comes the utility of the Ideal. In this stage of inner development, pursuit of a moral or spiritual ideal helps in our progress. The ideal gives a sense of purpose and direction to our life; helps us to organise our inner being and outer life around the rallying point of the ideal; provides a guiding light for choice and discrimination by asking “ whether this will help me to progress towards my ideal or not”?
On the subject of concentration, integral education differs from JK’s critique on this ancient yoga technique. Integral education accepts fully views of the ancient Indian Yogic tradition on concentration and only marginally agrees with the JK’s critique. As we have indicated already JK’s critique of concentration points out some of the possible pit falls in the application of the technique, when it is pursued in an ascetic exclusiveness shut off from life and world. But in an integral education pursued in the midst of life, the traditional method of exclusive concentration and JK’s method of all-inclusive attention can be developed parallely and simultaneously in a mutually complementing way.
The traditional method of concentration or the ability to focus the energies of consciousness in a single point has many educational, spiritual and mundane advantages and benefits. It can accelerate the process of learning; enhances the penetrative power, efficiency and force of consciousness in thought and action; reduce the time take to perform an action; develop the ability to penetrate behind the outer form or an idea into the deeper truth of the form or idea; and ultimately at its highest level lead to a complete identification of knower with the object of knowledge. All these abilities which the traditional method of concentration can bring are essential for the higher evolution and development of the individual. But even an ascetic in the cave cannot possibly practice such an exclusive concentration for the whole day. Concentration does not mean that one has to be focused on a point or an object always. It means to develop and possess the ability to focus out attention at a point, object, or idea or activity whenever we want like for example during studies or work or solving a problem or a difficulty or taking an important decision or in meditation or in practice sessions for developing concentration. But in our normal daily life such occasions for concentration do not occupy the whole day. There are plenty of unoccupied moments, occasions and periods in our life when there is no need for concentration but for relaxation, watching and observation, peace and silence like for example when we are in a nature sanctuary or traveling in a bus or walking in the beach or relating with people. Such moments are ideal perhaps for practicing JK’s method of attention.
Thus the traditional method of concentration and JK’s methods of attention need not be mutually exclusive. They can be practiced simultaneously, complementing each other. Concentration brings power, efficiency and penetration to the mind or consciousness. JK’s method of Attention brings refinement, sensitivity and awareness. Both are needed for the integral development of the individual. If the faculty of concentration is pursued exclusively without making any effort to develop other faculties like the emotional and the aesthetic then it may lead to insensitivity and dullness of the heart. On the other hand JK’s method of attention, if it is pursued exclusively without developing the power of concentration it may lead to hypersensitivity, weakness in the will and scattering of the mind in a diffused awareness and an inability to focus the mind. Similarly with the opposition made between idealistic orientation towards the future and the attention on “what is” in the present. If idealism is pursued only in the upper layers of the mind, living exclusively in thought and imagination, in utopian reveries, then idealism suffers from all the defects and limitations which JK’s critique of the ideal brings out with great force. But when we make the effort not merely to think and dream the ideal but also to live the ideal with our whole being, in thought, feeling, sensations, will and action, and make it real and concrete to the whole of our being, consciousness and life, then idealism becomes a great force for human evolution and progress and the opposition between fact and the idea, future and the present is no longer valid.
Self-awareness and an objective regard on facts are indispensable for an effective realization of the ideal. The path of pragmatic idealism requires a clear objective and scientific understanding of the gap between present facts and the future ideal, intermediate stages to be traversed, factors favorable to or opposed to the ideal within us and the environment, our present weaknesses and capacities, what are the immediate steps to be taken within the boundaries set by present limitations and capabilities, and a matured balance which is willing to proceed gradually to the goal without compromising on principles. All this requires self-awareness and a factual regard on the present realities. On the other hand, in an average mentality, an exclusive orientation towards self-knowledge and present facts may lead to a stifling of the urge to progress, narrow-mindedness, boredom, stagnation and loss of hope and faith and enthusiasm for the future. Hare also we can see idealism, self-awareness, and attention to “what is” can complement each other.
The same argument applies to will and intelligence. The integral education aims at full development of all the potentialities and faculties of all the parts of our nature: thought, feeling, will, sensation, and action — and organize them around the spiritual core of our being in a complementing harmony. We can not realize this ideal if we create sharp contradictions and oppositions between them in the student’s mind, exalting some of them at the expense of the other.
So JK’s critique of some of the traditional paradigms like concentration, or idealism though helpful in understanding the pitfalls in them, is not very conducive to the realisation of harmony and integration. Making a sharp and irreconcilable contradiction in the student’s mind between will and understanding, present and future, concentration and attention is a great obstacle for creating the feeling, sense or intuition of integration and reconciliation of these apparent opposites in the mind of the learner.
And finally, a major factor of disagreement between JK’s thought on education and integral education is the faith in divine power and Grace. JK’s thought seems to deny the efficacy of such a faith and rely entirely on the personal effort, intelligence or awareness, of the individual learner or the teacher in steering the evolution and growth of the student. But integral education positively affirms the factor of faith and surrender to a higher divine power and grace as the greatest and the most effective force for accelerated evolution of the individual. This higher faith and surrender, even when it is not perfect but sincere, it can bring into the life of the individual, the guidance and direction of a supreme love and wisdom and power which is infinitely greater than any individual or personal effort or the wisest of human teacher. If child can be taught how to come into conscious contact with this higher divine power through whatever means, by devotion, work or meditation, and surrender to it or depend on it for everything in life, then that is probably the best education we can give to a child.
But in the integral view, self-knowledge and self-surrender are not contradictory movement. They are, in the Mother’s view, two parallel movements. Which have to be pursued simultaneously? First movement is a scientific and knowledge: “One of these movements is to become conscious of all the constituent elements of the being, material and sensory as well as intellectual and spiritual; we must become acquainted with the mechanism of the life within us, with all its tendencies, qualities, faculties and varied activities, very impartially, that is, without any preconceived idea of good or evil, without any absolute or arbitrary judgment (for our judgments are inevitably; lacing in clear-sightedness) about what should subsist and what should disappear, what should be encouraged and what should be suppressed. Our vision of what we are must be objective, without bias, if we want to be sincere and integral: we are faced with a universe which we must explore down to its smallest details, know in its most obscure and infinitesimal elements, with a scientific attitude of perfect mental impersonality, that is, without any a priori judgments. Whatever we may think, this work of observation, analysis and introspection is never completed. At all events, as long as we are on earth in a physical body, we should always study the immensely complex being that we are, so that no element may elude our knowledge and therefore our control: for we can only master what we know and command what we have mastered.”
This is nothing but “choiceless awareness” of JK. But in the integral view, this self-knowledge through awareness has to be complemented by the second movement of a constant and repeated self-offering, which has to proceed simultaneously with the first:
“Each element that has become conscious of itself, each tendency, each faculty, must surrender to the Sovereign Guidance of the Eternal Essence of Being, with the simple trust of a child; She will order, classify and utilise all these elements in the right way; She and She alone can separate what can be used from what cannot, what must be encouraged from what must be eliminated; and, no doubt, as before Her all is of equal value, all can be used, since by Her all is transformed, illumined, transfigured: all that becomes conscious of Her and gives itself to Her becomes Herself and thus escapes all notions of good and evil, which are purely external and human.”
And finally Mother concludes:
“One of these movements, one of these attitudes without the other is incomplete and one-sided. To consecrate our being in one block to the Supreme Essence is not enough: all the elements that we do not know and have not mastered elude this consecration and therefore follow their own law instead of conforming to the Eternal Law, and become the source of every disturbance, every unexpected revolt in one who had yet thought himself to be entirely a servant of The Law. But he was forgetful of all the unknown nooks in his being which also have a claim to life and activity and which are manifested in their turn, but in activity that is disorderly and disharmonious relative to the being as a whole, since they elude the central will.”
On the other hand, to become conscious of ourselves in our smallest details is vain and sterile, even dangerous, if it is not done for the sake of order, so that the Divine Essence can be made the Omnipotent ruler of all these elements, if we do not secure their unreserved surrender to Her supreme guidance, to The Sovereign Law.
Only in the balanced union of these two attitudes can one truly, integrally, call oneself a Servant of the Eternal.