Education for enlightenment

Eight thousand years ago, a young prince Siddhartha transformed into an enlightened soul. He became a Buddha – the enlightened one, who worked tirelessly to erase pain and unhappiness from this world. 

Buddhist meditates in tranquil pond surrounded by lotus ,generative artificial intelligence

That was 8000 years ago. Since then, enlightenment has eluded us. However, we’ve compensated for the loss with a stringent approach to education, and created Upanishads, Puranas and textbooks in recent times,  yet, there has not even been a flicker of enlightenment. None similar to a Buddha who could alleviate the humanity of its pain and suffering. 

It is time to do some hard thinking. Something is flawed in our education system. Maybe, as human beings, we are inept to access our inner intelligence until we are encouraged to ask! Since our education has been geared since time immemorial towards remembering, there has been less of asking and more of receiving. 

It is no surprise, the Upanishads, which is a discourse between the Guru and disciple is also called Smriti. It means that knowledge is committed to memory and transferred to the future generation. Strangely, it has shades of the rote learning system, where we memorize without reasoning. We follow without asking and re-produce our lessons in the exam hall without understanding. 

Why has there been no Buddha?

Simply because enlightenment doesn’t even exist for us and we are not even interested in it. We go to schools to learn how to crack exams. It is a different story altogether that most students get overwhelmed with the stress of the exams and begin to lose their creativity. 

 When cracking exams become more important than acquiring knowledge, learning takes a backseat, which in turn stunts our thinking faculties. Certainly, if we want the education to facilitate enlightenment, we need an education designed for more than exams and earnings. Which means we have to encourage inquisitiveness within the classrooms, and the child should deal with a problem by thinking “what if.”

Such thinking promotes critical thinking mindset and allows us to explore alternative answers to the routine problems, which is even called thinking out of the box by many. One of the brightest minds of the century, Steve Jobs, opines, “To achieve success, we have to learn to be a thinker and a doer.”

As education gears towards enlightenment, we need educators who are willing to reflect and place less emphasis on the metrics of achievements, like marks scored in the exams. Placing too much emphasis on becoming first in the class doesn’t let us imbibe the traits of collaboration, which is more important in today’s world than the competition. 

As Artificial Intelligence becomes mainstream, creativity is what will make us different from others, because the run of the mill jobs will be done by the machines. Naturally, creativity doesn’t bloom in stifling conditions where we MUST do something because since ages it has been done in this way.  Asking a question, reasoning, displaying inquisitiveness are MUST HAVE elements for creativity. Often, this search leads to accessing the inner intelligence – the wisdom we all have but only the blessed ones use. Critical reasoning, out of the box solutions are just means to access the inner wisdom, which might lead to enlightenment. And it all starts with a Why. Encourage it in the children you interact with and it can change the world.