From the Jacket:
Spiritual Education is meant for parents, teachers, and all who are interested in education based on spiritual values.
Included in the book are the views of Swami Sivananda, Mata Amritanandamayi, Krishnamurti, Aurobindo and other great spiritual masters on education. Also included are many practical examples using mandalas, meditation, different yogas and story-telling as aids to spiritually value-based education. The author gives a detailed description of schools based on spiritual ideas in the West as well as in the East.
About the Author:
Born and trained as a social worker and a teacher in Holland, Purnima Zweers has lived many years in India, where she has studied with many great spiritual masters. Her great dedication to her own personal spiritual journey led her to writer her graduate thesis on spiritual education. That paper has been greatly expanded to create this book.
Purnima's experience of India's ashrams and spiritual traditions, as well as her awareness of the importance of value based education, makes her feel very strongly that no effort should be spared to build up a generation with strong character, ethical values and moral principles. The well-being of the world depends on the education of our children.
Purnima has exhibited an exceptional skill in translating her years of experience into an easily readable format. Anyone interested in spiritually-based education will surely appreciate this book.
Spiritual education is the indispensable ultimate dimension of all real education. The secular man in this outer plane of gross physical material world has got three levels to his personality, the physical level, the physiological and the psychological level. The outer body with its limbs from the top of the head and down to the feet is kept fit and in healthy condition by various proc- esses like open-air drill, gymnastics in the gymnasium and ac- tion-filled games and athletics. All these comprise physical exer- cise. This comes under physical education.
The physiological inner mechanism of the individual is equally or even more important because, upon the smooth and efficient functioning of the inner mechanism comprised of the respiratory, circulatory, the digestive, assimilation and elimination processes, constantly functioning right from the birth of the infant till the very last moment of the death of the person depends the happy living of the individual human being. The inner health of the heart, lungs, liver, spleen, pancreas, stomach, the smaller and the greater intestines, kidneys and the bladder, not to mention the most im- portant central nervous system and the brain, etc., under your skull, all these are the very basis and foundation of the outer physical body and its fit condition. A disease in interior physi- ological body will bring about a weak and ineffective physical body. Wisely working for this interior fitness through proper eat- ing of a healthy natural diet, drinking pure water and breathing deeply, taking in maximum oxygen into the lungs, all contribute to the inner fitness. This is called health culture.
The third level is the psychological man with his unique and unparalleled faculties of thinking, feeling, reasoning, inquiring and investigating and the power of remembering and recollec- tion through memory; these comprise the psychological level and aspect of the human nature. This is the human being's supreme endowment and unparalleled privilege. It is his mental-intellec- tual psychic culture. The acquiring of all knowledge is through the active exercise of this inner field. It is the very foundation of all secular education imparted through schools, colleges, univer- sities with different fields of knowledge, right down from kin- dergarten up to the highest post-graduate and doctorate levels. The term is usually applied to this third process which is in fact knowledge-culture. All these foregoing pertain to the secular man. The great men of the past, the great mystics, saints, sages and philosophers have boldly and clearly declared that there is, beyond the apparent secular man, the most important fourth prin- ciple which constitutes the real being who is an eternal, imper- ishable, indestructible spark of divinity. He is a part of the Uni- versal Spiritual Being like a wave is a part of an ocean. This part or inner principle is birthless, deathless, supra-physical and is eventually spiritual in its nature. This truth is brought out in the biblical words, "God created man in his own image". This inner fourth dimension, the spiritual principle or the God-essence which is the real identity of every human being needs to be awakened, activated, trained and developed. This is called spiritual educa- tion. Spiritual education helps the unfoldrnent of the dormant divinity or the latent spiritual nature of the human being. Until that level is awakened and activated, man is really to be consid- ered as sleeping only. The purpose of spiritual education is the waking up from this slumber. This inner awakening is the birth- right of every individual. Purnima Zweers, the authoress and compiler, has done a great service to our present generation through this book SpiritualEducation. She has presented the wis- dom of great minds like Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsadeva, Gurudev Rabindra Nath Tagore, H.H. Most Revered Sri Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj, as well as the world-famed great thinker Sri J. Krishnamurti. The contents are spiced with great humour through children's letters to God. This book is a valuable edition to the existing literature on the subject of education. It is sure to benefit and enhance the value of the entire field of education.
May the blessings of Divine Mother Goddess Saraswati be upon it. I wish the book all success
In order to explain my motivation for Writing a book on spiritual education I would like to tell a little about my back- ground.
Because of my interest in spirituality I moved to India in 1985 as I felt India to be the source of true wisdom. In India I lived always at holy places, and mostly in ashrams (monaster- ies), and thus got the opportunity to study Indian philosophy under great masters.
While living in Banaras I had a great deal of contact with the local children. They were all from very poor backgrounds and requested me to teach them English. So we had weeldy classes' in my house. One of these children became very close to me and I decided to (financially) adopt her and find her a suit- able school. That is how I came in contact with the school sys- tem in India and it was in those days that I started to think a lot about education and the importance of a good school.
Children are our future, so it seems to me that we should go out of our way to provide them with good education.
My spiritual aspirations prompted me to wonder whether there would be any schools in the world with teachings and a curriculum based on spiritual values. This is how I became inter- ested and it was from this point that I began my 'research', sim- ply by enquiring and reading, and over the years indeed visiting such schools.
In 1990 I was offered a job in a school in India teaching yoga and meditation and therefore I decided to temporarily re- turn to Holland in order to follow a course in teacher-training. Choosing a subject for my final paper was not difficult; from the beginning of my study I knew I would choose the topic of spiritual education to research for my final paper.
A few years after my graduation I met Alvaro Enterria from Banaras. A publisher of philosophical and religious books, he took interest in my book and decided to publish it in India. Be- cause now the book would reach Indian readers I felt the need to insert an extra section. Chapter 6 deals with the Indian school system, particularly value-based private schools and projects in different parts of the subcontinent.
1.1 Research questions
• Are there any schools where the teachings are based on spir- itual values?
• What are the spiritual values on which these teachings are based?
• In what way do these schools provide spiritual education?
• What is the influence that spiritual education has on children?
This book consists of seven chapters starting with the Intro- duction. The second chapter contains an article on "Education in the light of our destiny" and an explanation related to the title of this book Spiritual Education. It is followed by the educational views of three great masters: Swami Sivananda, Krishnamurti and Rabindranath Tagore.
In the third chapter, three important concepts are explained: mind, concentration and yoga. The fourth chapter deals with my own activities with children and the fifth gives a detailed de- scription of two schools: the Integral Yoga School in Bucking- ham, Virginia (U.S.A.) and the Plato School in Amsterdam (Hol- land).
Chapter cix gives a brief sketch of the school situation in India. It describes some examples of value-based private Indian schools, followed by an epilogue in chapter seven.
When talking about pupils, I mostly refer to a child as he; this should be read as he/she. For the sake of practicality I have used he throughout this paper.
Since the writings of Swami Sivananda have inspired me the most, the quintessence of his teachings are to be found throughout this paper. The titles of his books used can be found in the bibliography.
Because many Sanskrit terms have been used, a small glos- sary has been included to explain their meaning.
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