What is Education?
We often come to realize that what is called education has little to do with the knowledge that we acquire in our daily lives. That is not really surprising, because we are used to receiving information in one form or another all of our lives. We have never been taught anything that was not transmitted verbally, and certainly not in the way that it was transmitted then. Today, though, virtually all of us receive a great deal of information electronically. There are books to be read, recorded music to be listened to, documentaries to be viewed–and so on.
What is called education is really just an expression of the fact that we still haven’t quite reached a stage where all of the information that we need is instantaneously available to us. In fact, most of the educational programs that we pay attention to are designed so that the student has to wait for a certain period of time before the information that is sought can be delivered. I think that most of us realize that life isn’t like that, and that waiting is really a kind of torture. Isn’t that why we seek to eliminate pain in any circumstances possible? Isn’t that why we look for shortcuts to education?
What is called education is really just the process by which we gain a deeper understanding of life. We recognize that there are some things that just aren’t part of our normal experience. They are things that must be learned through the lens of education. For example, did you know that your body’s natural defenses are designed to protect you from most kinds of pain, but that you ignore them when you are in danger? That is called pain management.
Another example is that many of us are familiar with the fact that death affects us immediately, if not immediately then over time. It is a part of our lives, and we often pay little attention to it. But what we often don’t realize is that we are created to enjoy the process of living and dying. We are to live and let live. Yet this very awareness can cause us trouble if we do not make the transition from life to death with mindfulness.
What is education to you? Education is allowing yourself to gain a deeper understanding of your life and of the universe around you. This can be accomplished by asking questions and seeking to understand the deeper meaning behind what you see and experience. What is education to me may be very different than what is education to you. So, instead of looking at education as something that you do or something that you are, like my grandmother used to say, “You graduate and you’re a man.”
Instead, education can be seen as the practice of mastering the skills of life mastery. The ultimate aim of education is, in my opinion, to lead you out of the slavery of reason to the beliefs, hopes and desires of other people. We are, as a species, infinitely subjective in both mind and body. The practice of education on the other hand, leads to a quest for a more balanced approach to both.
So, what is education to me? It is an awakening to the fact that reason, like all of the rest of the senses, does not exist independent of human insight, that all of our beliefs are nothing more than dogmatic programs that serve to blind us to the realities of life. It is the recognition of this fact that leads to a path of spiritual inquiry, self-discovery and personal humility. It is the heart of all inquiry, the opening up of which enables true freedom – the true nature of reality.
What is education to you? Think about it. The more time you spend focused on gaining an education, the closer you will come to answering the original question of “what is education?” And the more equipped you will be to live life fully, enjoying all the joy and blessings that education can bestow upon us.