From the Jacket :
This is an indisputable fact that we find ourselves placed in the universe and that the most natural activity for us is to explore ourselves and the universe and the complexities of our relationship to the universe. The task of the educationist is to advise us as to how best we can arrive at the knowledge of ourselves and the universe and develop the capacities of relating ourselves to the universe in a harmonious way.
There are three aspects under which we try to know ourselves. The first aspect is that of our body; the second aspect is the complexity of our drives and urges for action, battle and victory - the "vital being" - and the third aspect is what we call mind, our instrument of conception and ideation, of reflection and reasoning. But deeper psychological explorations indicate that behind what we experience as our physical, vital and mental being, there are, as the Upanishads point out, inner sheaths supported by a kind of self-consciousness which sustains and nourishes the inner physical being, the inner vital being and the inner mental being...
So it appears that the most important programme of education that should be proposed to everyone is that of self-knowledge and of self-control. In spite of the difficulty and complexity of the task, we have decided to undertake the study of all the aspects of education for self-knowledge. As a first step, our research team has been concentrating upon the question of physical education as a part of the larger theme of self-knowledge.
There is a vast literature on the subject of physical education, but the aim of this study had certain specific novelties in regard to approach and thrust. Firstly, problems and programmes of physical education were related with deeper questions about the nature of the human body and how its potentialities can be developed through various methods, up to the levels of excellence. Secondly, this work was exploratory in nature and thus free from dogmatic views regarding the nature of the body and its relationship to deeper aspects of the human personality. Thirdly, we wanted to be as comprehensive as possible within our present limitations and thus to include in our studies not only the present systems of education but also ancient systems, not only Western systems but also some f the Eastern systems.
We hope that this book will stimulate the reader and lead him to new studies and new discoveries.
A question that has assumed in our times a great importance in
pedagogy is: in what does our true fulfilment consist? And, in
that context, what is the nature and content of that knowledge
which all human beings should pursue and possess?
It is, indeed, possible to ask whether the human search can ever
truly be fulfilled and whether it is not wise to limit ourselves to some
immediate utilitarian or pragmatic goals. As a matter of fact, a large
number of pedagogical programmes have been designed in the context
of what is pragmatically useful to individuals and to society. This prag-
matic approach has its own justification; but it seems that the time has
come when deeper questions must be raised and answered.
Considering that there is today an unprecedented explosion of infor-
mation, one is obliged to ask how one can relate oneself to this explo-
sion in such a way that one is not crushed under the increasing flow of
information. On the one hand, there is a pressure towards specializa-
tion; on the other hand, a pressure towards inter-disciplinary and holis-
tic knowledge. Knowing more and more about less and less bestows
upon the individual a specialized capacity and proficiency but it also
creates disabling inefficiencies in respect to larger questions where
multi-sided knowledge is indispensable.
There is more to perplex us. The specialized knowledge and effi-
ciency that the individual possesses today tend to become obsolete at a
rapid rate. There is, in consequence, an increasing pressure to continue
learning all the time. This, however, leaves very little time to expand
horizons of knowledge in fields other than that of narrow specialization.
With the passage of time, our inefficiency in dealing with the general
questions of life goes on increasing. At a certain stage, this situation, if
not corrected, can really become alarming. Crises of various kinds are
bound to multiply. This is what we witness today all over the world.
Still something further is there to disturb us in the very heart of our
being: the increasing mechanization of life and the increasing tendency
to impose mechanical solutions on human problems where they really
do not work. Humanity is gradually moving in the direction of dehu-
manization. It seems as though humanity is gradually sinking into a
routine of life that prevents the pursuit of rationality, morality and spir-
ituality. This routine of life is supported and imprisoned by structures
or superstructures over which none has any control. This would not
matter, to some extent, if human beings were ready to forget their
higher dimensions of personality and bury their higher aspirations in
exchange for certain pleasures and securities that can be provided by
the mechanizing and dehumanizing society with its uncontrollable
structures and superstructures. But human beings are complex; they
have many parts to their being; they are, therefore, obliged to listen to
the conflicting voices arising from their complexities and compli-
cations. They are bound to ask whether they are doomed to remain
for ever in a state of inner conflicts or whether these conflicts can be
resolved in some state of fulfilment. That an increasing number of
human beings are consciously experiencing the pressure of inner con-
flicts is becoming more and more evident and we hear all around the
mounting call of the crying. soul of humanity.
It is against this background that deeper questions, both of life and
education, have become extremely urgent and imperative. The question
of human fulfilment, therefore, is becoming increasingly relevant to
post-modem enquiry. The idea that the human being is fundamentally a
particle of dust destined to return to dust - this materialistic view of
man - is being increasingly suspected to be a dogma under the pres-
sure of existential problems which we need to deal with and resolve.
The idea that matter alone is real is being admittedly found to be
untenable because it cannot be verified by any experience and because
with the expanding spectrum of data, where supra-physical realities
have begun to demonstrate their presence or imprint, a larger non-
materialistic formulation has become inevitable.
All this impels us to institute fresh enquiry and research.
We shall avoid all dogmatism in our inquiry. Just as we are not
bound by the dogmatism of materialism, even so we shall not bind our-
selves to the dogmatic refusal of the reality and significance of Matter.
In our explorations, we shall record the data of various domains of
existence and evaluate them by appropriate methods. If this approach
does not lead us to any definite conclusions, we shall not take recourse
to any short-cut methods in order to balm ourselves with ill-gotten cer-
tainties. We shall prefer to remain in the state of uncertainty and con-
tinue to cultivate the attitudes appropriate to open-ended exploration.
We shall commence our journey with this indisputable fact of our
experience that we find ourselves placed in the universe and that the
most natural activity for us is to explore ourselves and the universe and
the complexities of our relationship to the universe. The task of the
educationist is to advise us as to how best we can arrive at the knowl-
edge of ourselves and the universe and develop the capacities of relat-
ing ourselves to the universe so as to make that relationship as harmo-
nious as possible.
We shall also bear in mind that our capacities for knowledge
depend very much upon the quality of the consciousness with which
we approach the activities of knowledge. The universe which looks so
beautiful and wonderful to the consciousness of the poet is perceived
to be oppressive and awful to an ordinary and weary consciousness.
Objects which seem to be opaque and veiled to our superficial con-
sciousness present themselves in their revelatory character to our deep-
er consciousness. We thus seem to be led to the wisdom of the ancients,
who held that while there are several alternative ways of gaining
knowledge, the most effective key to knowledge is the development of
deeper and higher levels of consciousness. The ancient wisdom goes
also further to affirm that there is a knowledge, knowing which every-
thing can be known, and that the door to that knowledge lies through
inmost self-knowledge. This opens out before us a specific line of
exploration, and we begin to ask questions as to what is our self and
how we can attain self-knowledge.
We note that everyone of us has some kind of self-experience and
that much of the effectivity of our action depends upon certain states
and qualities of self-experience. The quality of sincerity, for example,
imparts to our state of being some kind of indefinable but intrinsically
satisfying and effective self-experience.
Having reached this point of exploration, we are in a position to
make one general proposition of fundamental value in pedagogy,
which can be stated as follows: "One general aim of education should
be to enable each individual to develop the states of higher and higher
degrees of sincerity."
Numerous experiments have shown that wandering thoughts, a mul-
tiplicity of desires and the restlessness of impulses are the principal
factors that prevent us from having genuine experiences of inner sin-
cerity. One can verify this by simple experiments within oneself. It fol-
lows, therefore, that one has to find effective means and methods by
which thoughts, desires and impulses can be controlled. In the course
of the history of education, many such methods have been attempted
and experimented upon. These experiments have revealed that nothing
in the world is as difficult as to control oneself and ultimately to arrive
at self-mastery and self-perfection. Many experiments have failed
because self-control is sought to be achieved through the methods of
unintelligent or forceful repression or suppression which tend to weak-
en or kill the fundamental life-force. It is seen that it is only when we
give up repression or suppression and seek to transform life by meth-
ods of purification that this problem can be rightly resolved.
Continuing on this track of exploration, we enter into a vast domain
of education that aims at self-knowledge by self-control through meth-
ods of purification.
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