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Changing Education Paradigm Through Broadening Consciousness

- Dr. Galina Ermolina, Russia

Many people understand today that we as humanity actually have come to a crucial point in our development. Imagine for a moment, please: a spaceship with a crew from some highly developed planet arrives on Earth. They are aware of many secrets of Nature and use some kind of energy unknown to the inhabitants of Earth; the most amazing thing about them is however not their technology of the highest level, but the high moral standards according to which they live. In order to get information about the people of the planet Earth, firstly they decided to scan Earth’s mass-media; TV-programs, radio, etc. What kind of picture of the human race would they get?! A race of liars, criminals, people without spiritual values. That is exactly what mass-media show and impose on us today. They fill the atmosphere with hatred and violence, but I am sure we are not as bad as they depict us. All over the planet there are many sparks of light-bearers, and the participants of this respected conference belong to those who try to make a difference.

Buddha said: “Instead of cursing darkness, lighten your own, if even a small light.” I believe this is what we should do: lighten and keep alive our own inner light, which can manifest itself wherever we go and whatever we do.

Being a Russian educator with many years experience, I have come to the conclusion that without changing the paradigm of education, we as humanity can not move towards prosperity, which first comprises of the “prosperity of soul.” Material prosperity would then come second. I am sure that when speaking of education, we should not only touch upon the education of a young generation, but it is very important that the whole human society should realize the necessity of changing the approach to the world perception of eternal values. The world perception of the majority today is very narrow and predominantly oriented to consumption and based on selfishness. Right is the Buddha’s teaching that ignorance is the main sin. It is high time for us to try to broaden our consciousness towards the perception of the world and it’s inhabitants. Let me make a confession in front of this respected audience. Many years ago, being a well-read humanitarian student, I came across the quotation: “Cognize yourself and you will cognize the world.” It made me wonder what I didn’t know about myself. At that time I was almost sure that I knew everything about myself. Only later when I began to read philosophical and esoteric books along with religious scriptures I experienced a kind of a cultural shock. It turned out that I knew so little about the outer world – not to mention my inner world. Excuse me if I use too many quotations of the great zealots, but they are the torches spreading their light in the world, and this light has helped me personally to develop more awareness. I used to contemplate on their truth and slowly, slowly their truth became more vivid before me.

Very often we quote the words of Socrates: “I know that I know nothing.” Since my early years I felt that something was missing in this quotation and only last year at the scientific seminar in Moscow, a famous professor gave the second missing part of the saying: “I know that I know nothing, and i do not know that i know everything.” I was so happy to get this. The world then became more whole for me. It looks as if the other part of this wise saying had been taken away for some purpose!

So, we have all the knowledge of the world and the best way of living in this world is somewhere inside of us, deeply hidden. What we have to do is to cognize ourselves. HOW TO DO IT? Worldly wisdom is in spiritual scriptures, and they are available to everyone. Let us read them with open heart and mind. Do we need to work out new rules and principles for our survival? They have been worked out by those who paved the way for us.

I do not call you to stand in lines and march towards religion. I wouldn’t consider myself to be a traditional religious person, I am just on my spiritual quest. For me spirituality is a holistic notion and it is much wider than religion, the way we understand it today.

Much has changed in the world but Truth is always one and the same. Today we can suggest new methods and new ways in accordance to the certain situation within time and space, but the basis is Eternal, because Truth is Eternal.

Open the Holy Books of any religion and you will see that the essence of God’s Commandments is the same, only they were given through different prophets in different times and in different nations. It is difficult to speak about God and impossible to see or hear Him. Yet, it is possible to feel God’s presence in our everyday experiences. Often one can hear something like: “Well, if God or High World Consciousness or whoever He is does exists above us, then why doesn’t He bring us prosperity and happiness? Why doesn’t he stop all the wars and sufferings? Why doesn’t He feed all the hungry ones? These are good questions. Now, let’s imagine that God has come to us today. He is Almighty and He has fed everyone, stopped wars, and planted beautiful gardens. What a wonderful Paradise it would be! But how long will this paradise last? When the food has been eaten, where would we get more food? Why not get it from the neighbor who still has food? So, you see, the wheel of sufferings would just start a new turn. People got everything they needed on the material level, but their happiness didn’t last long. Excuse me for this very simple example, but very often wisdom lies in simplicity. It looks like material abundance will not solve the problems of humanity, because the consciousness level of people didn’t change with the change of material prosperity. The process of changing human consciousness is really a long process, which started long ago. Those who brought us higher knowledge of the Eternal Universe said that it is outside and inside us.

What should we do to start this long process? Begin with yourself, because everyone has soul and The Holy Spirit resides within everyone. Let’s try to reveal and develop it not just by sitting somewhere high in the mountains in deep mediation, but by being here in every day’s life.

For the last few years my life and social activity have been very much connected with Gobind Sadan – the Community of Baba Virsa Sing, the great Saint of India, who actually belongs not only to India, but to the whole world, and is very much loved in Russia. Very often representatives of different groups of enthusiastic people with great ambitions and good intentions come to Him asking to bless their new Association, Society, or Organization. Their goals are global: if not to save the humanity, then to solve all the problems in education, culture, or economy. They believe that if the Holy Man becomes their patron, all problems and obstacles will be easily solved. He never says “No” to anyone, but tries to encourage people. What He says is: “Remember, there is light in everyone of you. Start working hard not for your sake, but for the sake of people. Possibilities and money will come. Start working, and the more you work for others-the brighter your inner light will become, and you will be more and more successful in your attempts. Dare to start!”

Nothing can be gained without our own efforts, and if we start working on purifying our inner-self, purifying our thoughts, step-by-step we will notice the difference in ourselves and the change in the world around us.

Every now and then the idea of a Global Enlightened Government is being discussed in public. Some believe that if a group of spiritually developed, well educated, and intellectual people will lead the human society, the Golden Age will come again. No, it won’t! Even the angels fall down from their height, and the great leader of today can turn into a cruel and selfish tyrant tomorrow. This can be the worst case of globalization.

The only way out for us in order to survive as human species is to change ourselves. It is a long process, but there is Light at the end of the tunnel. There are many ways of how changes can come to the world. Education is one of the most important and direct ways for change, and it should be education in all paths of life, including self-education. Development strategies in every sphere of social life today needs to be changed: education, culture, spirituality, and economic. Attempts to bring changes and new approaches only to school education will not make a great difference. As for school education I believe that only synthesis in teaching methods guarantees getting knowledge in Integrity, without dividing it into small parts (subjects). We started to divide the whole world into pieces in the time of Aristotle, and still consider different phenomena in all fields of life including science as separate parts. Very often we even do not think that they can be very much connected with each other. Let us learn from Nature, which is so big and whole. Every creature and plant on the planet, has some kind of destination, and in natural conglomerate they create special conditions for the planetary function and survival. Only we human beings are separated from this natural process on our planet. Not long ago we used to have slogans like: “We human beings, are able to conquer nature and use it for our benefit.” Nowadays we realize that we should learn from Nature, studying it’s laws and what is extremely important is that we should learn to take our dear planet Earth as a living phenomenon. Let us not separate ourselves from our Mother Earth. Earth is not just a huge globe with different kinds of life on its surface. Earth is a living Entity with Her own laws and principles of development. With us or without us the Planet will continue its development in space and time; it will be much better if we will survive too.

A lot of research and scientific work should be done. All over the world the most progressive scientists have been working on this for a long time. Their discoveries of Nature’s secrets should serve only for creation and not for destructive purposes. It is known that actually there are new ways of getting fuel and alternative energy, so that Nature doesn’t suffer from its exploitation. The present level of human consciousness doesn’t allow the application of these new ways, which can also be misused. It is high time for us to realize that living according to the Eternal Commandments is the only way for our survival. Nobody, rich or poor escape when Nature looses Its temper, and we have had a lot of confirmations of this truth during the last few years.

The Holy man Baba Virsa Singh says “if only spiritual leaders can sit down together at one table with scientists for a talk, the latter will discover that solutions of their many scientific enigmas had been described in Holy Scriptures long ago.” Reading Holy Scriptures of any religion very attentively and sometimes “between the lines” we can find amazing things describing complicated processes in the Cosmos with all of it’s integrity.

We have come together today to speak on education of a new type and on educational innovative methods. My suggestions are to consider this extremely important topic in its wholeness. Even if we speak on school or high education, it is still the education of a human being; methods can be different, but basic principles are the same. When should we start educating a baby? When it is still in its mother’s protective retreat before it is born. But before the child’s birth the mother should be educated, as well.

Every member in a family needs education. The role of parents is exceptionally important. Whatever mother does, or feels, or thinks, is passed on to the unborn baby. There are many innovative methods in the world today and I believe that one of the main tasks for us is to collect these innovative materials and share them as widely as possible. This is how world education should work.

Speaking about school education, I am sure that priority should not be given to students on the basis of separate information on certain scientific subjects, but knowledge should be given in Integrity and without separating one subject from another. What is going on in education today? We teachers are just giving children information and not knowledge, and we are sure that the more we give the better it is. I really feel sorry for kids, for they do not have a childhood with its fun and careless freedom. A great burden is hanging over them to be able to cope with that enormous information they get. A child is not a vessel which we should fill; a child is a flower, which we should take care of by supporting his own blooming. The task of educators is to help a child to develop his or her natural God given talents and to find out its own way. The task of giving scientific knowledge is very important, but priority should belong to the integral spiritual development of a person. Spiritual development doesn’t mean just practicing religious rituals, but firstly it means living according to the spiritual values in every day life.

As an educator I am aware of many innovative educational methods, which have worked out in different countries. In 2003 I was happy to visit Balodya School here in Rajasthan, while working on Ahimsa principles. The work they do there in terms of bringing up a child in a holistic approach really impressed me very much. They try to teach children such qualities as compassion, tolerance, pride for their motherland, and kindness. They remind the children the names and deeds of the great heroes and outstanding people of different nations, not only Indians. To bring the mind in order they have simple classes on meditation. It is extremely important that they share their experience with other educators and I think that educators of different countries should find ways to meet each other, and to share their innovative methods and their thoughts on new ways in education.

Thousands of books and articles are being published today on education, and most of them are written by those for whom teaching is just a profession. Any world breakthrough is done by Passionariys (people with passion and devotion towards some idea). This term was suggested by the Russian 20th century philosopher Lev Gumilyev. The people who are here today are people of ideas, people of action, Passionariys. If we start working in cooperation with each other, we will be able to make a difference. There is no need to remind everyone about the effect of 100 monkeys; time comes and quantity turns into quality.

In Russia we have many educational programs on integral education. The most prominent names are world known Academicians: Schetinin and Amonashvili. They have published many books and articles on the methods they use in their work with young people. All their methods comprise integral perception of the world around us, which proposes applying the principle of synthesis of different branches of knowledge. The Boarding school led by Academician Schetinin is situated in the South of Russia in a rural area. University professors are lecturing there according to a specific curriculum. The results are striking! Some children of 13 years old are already correspondent students of Universities, while being teachers for their friends at the Boarding school. Each of them is teaching the subject which he or she knows very well. The main principle here is not to teach certain formulas or give information on the subject. They teach their school friends how to gain knowledge by themselves. Their methods of teaching are nontraditional in education and they encourage students to get knowledge by themselves. They teach them to be creative in whatever they do. Creativity and sense of beauty are cornerstones of the whole teaching-studying process at the Schetinin school. Much attention is given to the development of imagination, for it helps to broaden their consciousness and is very good for mind training. Students do a lot of manual work and most of the building work has been done by them too. Especially amazing is the joy which resides at that school. Whatever they do together they do with a smile and songs. The main purpose of this school is to train students so that they will become teachers with a broadened consciousness, and in turn will be able to teach others.

For many years I have been a member of a pedagogical group called “Spiritual values to education,” where new approaches to educational process have been worked out. We were very close to opening a school of a new type, in which along with classical scientific knowledge, students could get knowledge, which could lead them to self-development and wide integral world cognizing. Due to the bureaucracy and narrow thinking of those who rule the educational process today we didn’t manage to do it. I am sure that in the nearest future schools with new types of programs will appear all over the world, because more and more people realize the necessity of the major changes in all trends of life, and especially in education. Changes should be done on the whole scale of education – on the education paradigm. Partial changes are like patches on new clothes. Two years ago I received a special award from the International Educational Committee for giving the best variant of translating the English word “Integrity” into Russian. The dictionaries give the word with the meaning “wholeness”, and that is correct too. Yet, the word “Integrity” means much more. It comprises of moral qualities as well. When it struck me that in Russian we have another word “tselnost,” which along with wholeness means “aim-carrying.” When I realized this I was so happy and now I suggest to use this word which has been somehow forgotten. So, Integral education Must “carry a high aim.”

The synthesis of science, culture, and religion should be crucial principles for the new paradigm of education.

Let me finish with a few words about the so-called “Indigo children.” Actually, this type of children used to appear also earlier, and very often they were recognized as strange or even abnormal because their behavior differs from others. They are very active on the physical level and very smart on the mental, although at school they can get bad marks because they do not agree with the way how they are taught and what they are taught. Their aura is of indigo color (that’s why they are called “Indigo children”). They are born with the highest knowledge of this world: outer and inner, and it takes time for them to realize that the majority of the people are not the same as they are. During the last decade the number of Indigo children have increased. In the USA there is even a spiritual movement called “Indigo Children.” They collect material about the children and their experiences. A movie about them was launched recently by the famous singer James Twyman, and it was a great success. Their main message to the people is: “ If you believe that the new time has actually come and that the Aquarian age has brought a great shift in human consciousness, then do not wait till the rest of the world will be ready to accept this truth. Instead, you yourself live your everyday life according to your belief. So, if you believe in the power of thought, use this power for the people’s benefit and spread only good thoughts around you. The fact of the existence of these children is a good sign that we live in the time of the great predestined shift of consciousness.