Ask any educator today about the purpose of teaching, and they will more than likely say that it is to bestow knowledge, not much different from programming a computer. But is that the true purpose of teaching, or is that only an obsession with past, dead information? Another educator might say that education is teaching students to think for themselves and be analytical, which would be a second step above merely cramming minds with facts. But few educators have the insight or experience to take education to the third level.
What if the true purpose of teaching is to stimulate each person's innate creativity, an innate creativity that cannot be tapped by our present methods of education? Could it be that this third level is involved with the concept of thinking itself? This would be radical. Could learning to observe one's innermost thoughts, instead of merely thinking, be the secret to creativity?
Creative people admit that their epiphanies result not from thinking, but from minds that are calm and still. Therefore, by understanding oneself, which is watching one's thoughts and emotions, would it be possible to tap into a creativity that few currently access? This would indeed be the beginning of a new consciousness.
This begs the question of how we prepare our next generation for a future yet undetermined. Do we insist that they conservatively repeat what has been done in the past, or do we liberally throw out tradition and come up with new, untested solutions? Do we become stodgy experts of the past or reckless visionaries of the future? How much must we know about the past to influence our future in a positive fashion? Is it true that when we forget about the past, we are destined to repeat our mistakes, or do we repeat our mistakes because we do not make a fundamental shift in our consciousness, a change in the way we react to a constantly changing human situation?
If our present system only spits out clones of what has passed, we can only look forward to repeating the past. Over the last 50 centuries, what has really changed other than some technology? People remain greedy and hateful, killing each other over property, money and sex. What has changed; we remain animals in many ways. Our schools, however, seldom teach about the level of consciousness of human beings and how that consciousness level affects every relationship that we are ever in. Or how that level of consciousness might kick off WWIII. Our schools innocently believe that they are fulfilling their destiny by preparing students to make money and have families. They do this with competitive testing procedures designed to acclimate children with the necessary aggressive dog eat dog mentality that the children will be faced with their entire lives. Seldom do schools teach cooperation, or dabble in the meaning of life at a deeper level, other than productivity and competition.
Our institutions encourage a robotic curriculum. Schools spit out replicas of engineers and scientists that support and secure our nation. These engineers, doctors and scientists haven't a clue as to why they do the things they do, they haven't been taught to think for themselves; they only follow an agenda that promises happiness, but in reality provides nothing but increased worry and fear. Take some time to talk to these scientists and engineers and you will find that this is true.
Something is missing, and it's not introducing religion into our classrooms; it's introducing truth. So what is truth? Truth, according to some, is a fact that has been verified. Fact means that it is not a belief, not an ideal; it is fact - provable and incontrovertible like science or mathematics. The truth I speak of here, however, is far beyond these mundane disciplines. The truth I speak of is life itself.
No imposed discipline can go deeply into life. Psychology, philosophy - none of these actually touches life. The psychologist and the philosopher are as lost about life as anyone else because they have become caught up in the thinking process to solve their psychological problems like everyone else. They have not touched the one thing that will in fact solve their problems, which is the absence of thought, as hard as that is to fathom by great thinkers. But we must realize that the world is not changing, that the level of violence is the same if not worse than hundreds of years ago. Something is not working.
Our schools and educators have not advanced beyond systems developed 5,000 years ago. Thought, obviously necessary to educate our children, turns out to be the problem fatale at a deeper level that keeps humanity stuck in the quasi-animal world of self-inflicted violence.
Until thought is understood, not necessarily academically but internally, thought will continue to be admired and worshipped even though thought is nothing more than desire and aversion. This true nature of thought is not obvious to an ordinary mind, a mind so caught up in its desires and aversions that it remains blind. Uncovering truth and finding our true creativity is for those who have inquired into thought and seen thought's true colors - only then can we harness thought in ways that will change human destiny forever. Only then will we advance as human beings, and create a new world.
And it all begins with simple inward reflection.
E. Raymond Rock of Fort Myers, Florida is cofounder and principal teacher at the Southwest Florida Insight Center, http://www.SouthwestFloridaInsightCenter.com His twenty-eight years of meditation experience has taken him across four continents, including two stopovers in Thailand where he practiced in the remote northeast forests as an ordained Theravada Buddhist monk. His book, A Year to Enlightenment (Career Press/New Page Books) is now available at major bookstores and online retailers. Visit http://www.AYearToEnlightenment.com