Sri Sathya Sai World Education Conference
Lead an Ideal Life and Set An Example to Others
July 21, 2008
One may become a wise man by acquiring all types of knowledge;
He may not, however realise his own self, the dull-witted one!
Despite acquiring all knowledge
A mean-minded person cannot give up bad qualities. (Telugu poem)
The more a person is educated
The more he indulges in argumentation
Never can he acquire true wisdom
Why pursue all types of education
And get doomed?
One must pursue education that leads to immortality. (Telugu poem)
Devoid of practice, any amount of education will serve no purpose. One may acquire high academic degrees and titles. But, he cannot be called an educated person. Education is different from practical knowledge. Hence one has to put into practice what he has learnt from an educational institution. Today, it is only the highly educated who come under the category of ‘Ajnanis’ (those who lack wisdom). Children today imitate them and walk in their footsteps.
(Swami then answered some questions put by the delegates)
Q 1: How should students relate themselves to God?
A : God is not separate from you. He is in you, with you, around you, behind you and before you. One has to develop love towards God and have an inseparable bond of love with God. The relationship with God is not physical. One has to develop the feeling that God and himself / herself are one and the same and that God is in him / her.
Q 2: What are the external signs of spiritual transformation that takes place in a devotee?
A : First and foremost one has to enquire into himself whether one has developed unflinching faith in God or having a casual and worldly relationship with God. Having decided over the matter, one has to develop firm faith and ensure that he is living with a sense of total equanimity in both pleasure and pain. In fact, there are no special signs of spiritual transformation which takes place in an individual. It is possible that sometimes some signs may appear outwardly and in dreams or one may be relating himself to the voice of God. In any case, it is the individual that has to observe for himself whether his devotion is increasing or decreasing. Everything is dependant upon one’s faith in God.
Q 3: What are the qualities that are expected of a teacher in the Sai system of Education?
A : The teachers should not let the students go free. The teachers should exercise proper control over the students with kind and good words, keeping in view the aims and aspirations of the students. Simply because they are your students, you should not let them go scot-free. Even if you were to allow them some freedom, you should apply brakes now and then and you should also punish them, if necessary. Such punishment is intended to be a warning to the students to behave themselves properly.
Q 4: What is the role of a teacher in Sai Educational system? How should he enforce discipline?
A : Let the teacher remain as a teacher and the student as a student. Both have their roles and responsibilities. Especially the teacher has got a responsibility to ensure proper atmosphere in the classroom, while keeping the students happy.
Q 5: What are the efforts to be made by a teacher to become a role model in human values?
A : This is a very important question. It is only when a teacher behaves properly with the students that they emulate his qualities. What you forbid the students, you should not undertake to do. Not only this, even in the matter of food both the teacher and student should partake the same food. You forbid meat eating for the students and you yourself partake meat and fish. Such a practice is very bad for developing a harmonious relationship between the teacher and the student. What you teach to the students, you follow first. The teacher should not behave irresponsibly, thinking that the students have no right to question him. He should conduct himself with humility and alertness, while dealing with students. He should nourish and nurture the students with love. Another question relates to his dealings with students in a co-education school. The teacher should take extra care in his relations with the girl students. They should be treated as his sisters with love and respect. It is only then their character will be moulded. A teacher is expected to set an example to others by his behaviour.
Q 6: In what way the parents should be involved in children’s education?
A : Parents are expected not to discuss their family problems in front of the children. They should sort out those problems between themselves and keep the children happy and education-oriented. Instead of being pointed out by the children, parents should set an example to their children in conduct and behaviour.
Students should not cause any inconvenience to their parents. They should develop a sense of gratitude towards their parents for bringing them up by undergoing several difficulties and sacrificing their own comforts. Even after they are married, they should not neglect their parents, thinking “I and my family are doing well. What do I care if my parents are suffering?” It is only the uneducated fools who behave like that. Educated people should not develop such attitude. You must serve your parents and keep them happy. You should fulfil their needs. It is the duty of children to keep their parents happy.
These days, students make friendship with bad characters. “Tell me your company and I shall tell you what you are." By joining bad company, you will also get spoiled. Today, there is a lot of agitation between parents and children. The desires and aspirations of parents and children are opposed to one another. If you look after your own tastes, what about those of your parents? You can therefore fulfil your aspirations, keeping in view the expectations of your parents. It is sheer selfishness to work for your own satisfaction, making your parents unhappy. It is unbecoming of a son.
Parents should also exercise proper control over such children. The parents should explain to their children, “Today, you are married and set up a family. But, we are with you right from the beginning. Make us happy. It is your duty." Bidding good-bye to the parents and setting up a separate family is selfishness. It is only because of this selfishness is increasing in recent times and the relationship between parents and children is strained.
Another aspect I wish to emphasise is you should not interfere in matters not concerning you. Due to the impact of modern times, children tend to become separate from their parents. Tempers run high and tensions build up in such situations. Hence, you have to control your anger to a certain extent. You have to pause and enquire into yourself, “Do I have to show my temper on my parents? Is it correct?” You should not let your elderly parents shed tears on account of your rude behaviour. On the other hand, if you make them happy, you will also be happy.
The Bal Vikas classes are very important for the children. Dhyana (meditation) should be taught to Bal Vikas children and to those undergoing training in Education in Human Values. First and foremost, the parents should develop an awareness about human values. They should follow the human values in letter and spirit. How do you expect the children to follow human values, when you yourself are not following them?
Set an example by your practice of human values. Parents today are busy and have no time to spare for their family and children. If both the parents go to their offices, what will happen to the children? Who will look after them? Some years back, I wrote a poem about the pathetic condition of the children and family in such situations:
If women go out for jobs, who will take care of the home?
When husband and wife go out to office, who will do the household work?
If women go out to teach others’ children in schools, who will teach their own children?
If women also go to work just like men, who will cook food in the kitchen?
Earning money may solve some financial problems, but how will it resolve domestic problems?
Women can work and earn money but they cannot lead a happy life if they neglect their home.
They depend upon cooks and ayahs to run their homes. This will bring down the reputation of the family. Hence, you have to take up employment only after ensuring smooth running of the household. You can certainly take up a job, provided the children are taken care of in a proper manner. Even the males do not understand this situation. Some people spend their time in reading newspapers and watching TV after returning from their offices. Some others go to the club and play cards. They do not bother about their family and children.
How can they ensure proper atmosphere in the house and children’s education? If the children are not studying well, it is not their mistake. The parents are to be blamed for such a situation. You remain in the house and look after the children properly. That is the real income for the family. On the other hand, if you go out to earn a few thousands neglecting your children, you become selfish parents. If your children are spoiled, you have to repent later. Hence, it is the foremost duty of the parents to bring up the children in a proper atmosphere.
The human values are to be followed by every individual voluntarily. No one can enforce them from above. If people in their respective occupations like the police, doctors, nurses, etc., were to do their jobs with honesty and integrity, problems would not have arisen in society. Unfortunately, this is not the situation today. The children are suffering for the faults of their parents. Hence, we have to ensure that the children are happy and grow up in a healthy environment. You should not allow them to sleep till 8.00 a.m. You must wake them up at 5 o’clock itself. Unfortunately today even the parents do not get up at 5 o’clock. They sleep till 8 o’clock in the morning and their children up to 9 o’clock. The parents should set an example to their children. Those who have no children and with no responsibilities can sleep for any length of time.
Sri Sathya Sai Organisations while establishing schools can raise a corpus fund for the maintenance of schools. They can also take the help of parents for running the school. Especially, the three principles of Discipline, Duty and Devotion must be given top-priority in Sathya Sai Schools. Children have to be taught the human values right from an early age. Students should be taught to establish proper relationship with God. Parents should not provide all sorts of fashionable dresses to the children. Provide them simple and neat dress that will suit their needs. It is the primary duty of the parents to exercise proper control over their children. Parents should also be given proper orientation about Sai system of education. It is possible that some parents may not be aware of it.
Some children out of fear of their parents speak lies. Hence, parents have to visit their school once in a week to enquire about their wards’ behaviour and progress in studies. Sometimes children manipulate their marks and inform them to their parents, who implicitly believe their wards. They do not care to go to the school and check with the teachers. Parents have to go to the school every now and then and check with the teachers, without the knowledge of their children.
In a way, the parents in villages are better in this aspect. They at least monitor the progress and behaviour of their children in the school and take timely corrective measures. But, people living in towns and cities especially high officials do not bother about their children. Students should not loiter here and there. Some students roam about in bazaars and waste their time. Such students are stupid! It does not behove the stature of a student to roam about in the streets aimlessly.
Parents should also prevent children from misuse of money. They have to educate children as to what is right and what is wrong. Their behaviour should be corrected by the parents. Father, mother and children should thus lead a harmonious life in the house. Parents should also watch what books the children are reading. Youngsters are prone to read all sorts of books. They keep some useless novels in the midst of textbooks and read them. Parents think that the boy is reading a textbook. But, that is not a textbook; it is his ‘taste’. Parents should immediately remove such books from the children. When you thus observe and keep a close watch on the activities of the children, they behave well and come up in life.
The Bal Vikas children should be educated about the ceiling on desires which forbids waste of money, food, energy and time. It is only when you enforce this rule, children come under your control. Today, even the elders do not follow this ceiling on desires. During festivals and family occasions, a lot of money is spent in organising dinners where food is wasted. Food is God; do not waste food. Give food to those who are in need of it. Unfortunately today, the poor and hungry are not fed. A lot of food is thrown in the dustbin as waste.
As regards to talk, one should not talk too much, whereby precious energy is wasted. Similarly, do not waste time. “Time waste is life waste”. We are wasting money. What purpose is served by wasting money?” “Misuse of money is evil.” Certainly you can spend money when necessary. But, should you waste money for unnecessary things simply because you have enough money in your pocket? Several people spend their entire salary for luxuries. They think that they are leading a pompous life. When you are thus spending money recklessly, even the milkman and servants in the house who observe your lifestyle put forward demands for increasing their wages. Therefore, you should not set a bad example for others. Each rupee you spend, you should enquire into yourself whether it is for a good purpose or not.
These are the answers for the questions and points you have raised. Conduct yourself carefully and lead a purposeful life in society. Even if you commit a small mistake, society will view it seriously. Do not commit even a small mistake. The society is carefully watching the lives of members of Sri Sathya Sai Organisation. Hence, lead an ideal life and set an example to others.