Saturday, September 09, 2006

Intuition: The Faculty of the Future

Way to learning: Bookish And Mechanical System Must End Mohit Chakrabarty The Statesman
Education today is under stress and strain. Learners are burdened, teachers bewildered, parents and guardians perturbed. Apart from the fact that Sri Aurobindo has spoken of integral education for the future, his primary concern was education to kindle consciousness which would bring a vibration in the mind. Sri Aurobindo observes: “The intellectual understanding is only the lower buddhi; there is another and a higher buddhi which is not intelligence but vision, is not understanding but overstanding in knowledge, and does not seek knowledge and attain it in subjection to the data it observes but possesses already the truth and brings it out in the terms of a revelatory and intuitional thought.
Intuitive mind“The nearest the human mind usually gets to this truth-conscious knowledge is that imperfect action of illumined finding which occurs when there is a great stress of thought and the intellect electrified by constant discharges from behind the veil and yielding to a higher enthusiasm admits a considerable instreaming from the intuitive and inspired faculty of knowledge. For there is an intuitive mind in man which serves as a recipient and channel for these instreamings from a supramental faculty.” (The Writings of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother).
This “instreaming” in education refers to the fact that our true teacher is neither knowledge nor understanding but careful, judicious, foolproof, scientific, objective and dynamic application of intuition which, according to Sri Aurobindo, is “our first teacher”. He asserts: “Intuition always stands veiled behind our mental operations. “Intuition brings to man those brilliant messages from the Unknown which are the beginning of his higher knowledge. Reason only comes in afterwards to see what profit it can have of the shining harvest. Intuition gives us that idea of something behind and beyond all that we know and seem to be which pursues man always in contradiction of his lower reason and all his normal experience and impels him to formulate that formless perception in the more positive ideas of God. Immortality, Heaven and the rest by which we strive to express it to the mind”. (Intuition: The Faculty of the Future).
Apart from the fact that the future of education depends on a total overhauling of the stereotyped system of bookish and mechanical learning and teaching, the three things that, according to Sri Aurobindo, are necessary are elimination of the so-called schools in the name of educational institutions, the replacement of teachers with those from the immediate community who would voluntarily and spontaneously contribute to creativity, aesthetic advancement and critical thinking, and finally, the replacement of education itself making room for an evolving, thrilling and a new way of life. Nevertheless, what is of absolute importance in creating a new future of education is revelation.
  • What sort of revelation does Sri Aurobindo consider significant and apposite?
  • Should a teacher or a learner be satisfied with inspiration alone?

The world of education or, more prominently and meaningfully, the world of the way of life now and for centuries to come, looks forward to nurturing of direct knowledge and vision with freshness and spontaneity leading to intuitive inspiration and crystallised action. Not suggestive intuition but quick and judicious discrimination between right and wrong, the genuine and the artificial, the core and the superfluous. In the words of Sri Aurobindo, ”The action of the intuitive mind must complete the action of the rational intelligence and it may wholly replace it and do more powerfully the peculiar and proper work of the intellect itself; it may explain more intimately to us the secret of the form, the strands of the process, the inner cause, essence, mechanism of the defects and limitations of the work as well as of its qualities.

“For the intuitive intelligence when it has been sufficiently trained and developed, can take up always the work of the intellect and do it with a power and light and insight greater and surer than the power and light of the intellectual judgment in its widest scope. There is an intuitive discrimination which is more keen and precise in its sight than the reasoning intelligence”. The crisis of education lies in our inability to identify the loopholes that stand in the way of a new future. The education of apathy and ignorance must be replaced by the education of harmony and sympathy. True to his vision of the new education of the future, Sri Aurobindo wanted us to create a new global village of humanity where education stands for an all-embracing effort to build an integrated personality.
In creating a new future of education, exploring, experimenting and disseminating the education of the heart is not only essential but also obligatory. The ideal of human unity, as Sri Aurobindo advocates, is entirely based on how to revitalise education that promises ascent and excellence of man. A new approach to creating a new future in and through education will always welcome a regeneration of consciousness of the beyond that has its starting point with excellence leading to further excellence that beckons beyond humanity. Learner’s attitudeThe emergence of a new future in education ought to be rooted in the attitude towards the learner. This is particularly relevant to the child who looks forward to catholicity of attitude, love and understanding, appreciation and feeling.
As regards the principles of true teaching, Sri Aurobindo’s invaluable observation might serve as a permanent guideline to the future teacher: “The first principle of true teaching is that nothing can be taught. The teacher is not a task-master, he is a helper and a guide. His business is to suggest and not to impose. He does not actually train the pupil’s mind, he only shows him how to perfect his instruments of knowledge and helps and encourages him in the process. He does not impart knowledge to him, he shows him how to acquire knowledge that is within; he only shows him where it lies and how it can be habituated to rise to the surface. The distinction that reserves this principle for the teaching of the adolescent and adult minds and denies its application to the child is a conservative and unintelligent doctrine. “Child or man, boy or girl, there is only one sound principle of good teaching. Difference of age only serves to diminish or increase the amount of help and guidance necessary; it does not change its nature”. (A System of National Education).

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