Editor’s Note: Youngsters these days are bombarded with many unhealthy and undesirable influences coming from entertainment industry, mass media and social media. This makes the work of teachers more significant as they have to present to the impressionable minds the necessary corrective influence, especially when it comes to controlling impulsive movements of violent and sexual nature, which if unchecked can grow into potentially harmful tendencies as a result of the external influences.
It is a pity that instead of tackling these challenges educational thinkers and educators in India either ignore such issues completely or come up with superficial solutions which hardly address the problem and rather aggravate the situation even further.
We present here a few excerpts from some responses of the Mother where she provides us with great insight to help us understand these challenges at their fundamental level, and thus come up with more effective approaches to address them. Any comments or questions from teachers, students or disciples are presented in italics. For the purpose of online presentation, we have made a few formatting revisions without altering any text.
A: … “We would like to make it possible for each child to develop integrally and above all we want his desire to learn to remain spontaneous. …But because all the tendencies of the children come into play when they are given enough free scope, several difficulties arise, especially in controlling the noise and movements they make. A few days ago, they began to make swords and pistols out of Meccano…
… We have tried giving them a play to act in the hope that it will calm down after a while. But what should we do with this desire for violence, this preference for war—or even detective-stories?”
Violence is necessary so long as men are dominated by their ego and its desires…
But violence should be used only as a means of self-defence if one is attacked. The ideal towards which humanity is moving and which we want to realise, is a state of luminous understanding in which the needs of each one and of the overall harmony are taken into account….
The future will have no need of violence, for it will be ruled by the divine Consciousness in which everything harmonises with and completes everything else.…
A: So, in a general way, when these things come up, when the children are engaged in this kind of activity, X was asking: “Should we intervene, or wait until the movement dies down and disappears?”
You should… you should question the children and ask them in an off-hand way, “Oh, you have enemies? Who are these enemies?”… That is what you should say…. You should make them talk a little…. It is because they see that… There is strength and a beauty in the army which children feel strongly. But that should be preserved. Only, armies should be used not to attack and capture but to defend and… and protect. That’s it.
First she must understand properly: for the moment, we are in a condition where weapons are still necessary. We have to understand that this is a passing condition, not final, but that we must move towards that.
Peace—peace, harmony—should be the natural result of a change of consciousness.
A: And so, she has a second question, Mother. She says—I remind you that she has children aged eight to ten—she says: “As this is the age when the mental approach is beginning to appear in several children, how can we make use of this mental movement and enrich it without hampering the inner spontaneity?”
That depends so much on the case, and the child!
You see, there is this idea of non-violence about India, which has replaced material violence by moral violence—but that is far worse!
You should make them understand this…. You can say this, explain to the children that to replace physical violence, material violence, by moral violence, is no better.
Lying down in front of a train to prevent it from passing is a moral violence which can create more disturbances than physical violence.…
But it depends on the child, it depends on the case. You must not give any names, say what this or that person has said. We must make them understand ideas and reactions.
… you should make them understand that lying down in front of a train to prevent it from passing is as great a violence… even greater than attacking it with weapons. You understand, there are many, many things that could be said. It depends on the case.
I myself encouraged fencing a great deal because it gives a skill, a control of one’s movements and a discipline in violence.
At one time I encouraged fencing a great deal, and then too, I learned to shoot. I used to shoot with a pistol, I used to shoot with a rifle because that gives you a steadiness and skill and a sure-sightedness that is excellent, and it obliges you to stay calm in the midst of danger.
I don’t see why all these things… One must not be hopelessly non-violent—that makes characters that are… soft!
If she sees children… What was it? They were making swords?
A: Yes, Mother, they made swords out of meccano.
She should have taken the opportunity to tell them, “Oh, you should learn fencing!”
And a pistol too?
A: Yes, Mother.
And tell them… teach them to shoot… make it into an art, into an art and into a training of calm and self-controlled skill. One should never… never raise a hue and cry…. That will not do at all, at all, at all. I am not at all in favour of that. The methods of self-defence should be mastered, and for that they must be practised….
… You can teach them fencing and shooting if they show that they are interested, that is, like that, like what I am writing to X…. If she sees a child doing that, she must not… (Mother raises her arms as if in horror). She should tell him, she must know how to explain to him, “It gives you control over your muscles, it obliges you to be strong and calm and self-controlled.”
On the contrary, it is an opportunity to give them a very good lesson. But you must be able to understand yourself, and above all, above all, make them understand… make them understand that moral violence is just as bad as physical violence. It can even be worse; that is, at least physical violence obliges you to become strong, self-controlled, whereas moral violence… You can be like this (Mother demonstrates an apparent calm) and yet have a terrible moral violence.
~ The Mother, CWM, Vol. 12, pp. 435-438
Two things need to be done. Children must be taught:
a) not to tell a lie, whatever the consequences;
b) to control violence, rage, anger.
If these two things can be done, they can be led towards superhumanity.~ The Mother, CWM, Vol. 12, p. 155
There is an idea that if one breaks conventions, restrictions, one is free from the limitations of ordinary humanity. But this is wrong.
Those two things must be achieved to be able to be what may be called “superman”: not to tell lies and to control oneself.
A complete devotion to the Divine is the last condition, but these are the first two things to be achieved.
Nowadays in schools elsewhere, especially in the West, much importance is given to “sex-education”.
What is “sex-education”? What do they teach?
For myself, I don’t like people to be preoccupied with these things. In my time we were never preoccupied with these things. Now children talk about them all the time—it is in their minds, in their feelings. It is disgusting. It is difficult, very difficult.
But if they talk about it elsewhere, we have to talk about it here too. They should be told the consequences of these things. Especially the girls ought to be told that the consequences can be disastrous. When I was young, in those days, people never spoke about all that, they never paid attention to these things. In those days, people did not talk about all that.
Here, I did not want this subject to be discussed. That is why we do physical culture. In that way the energies are used to develop strength, beauty, skill and all that; and one is more capable of control. You will see, the ones who do a lot of physical culture, they are much more capable of mastering their impulses.
(After meditation) The energies that are used in human beings for reproduction and which take such a predominant place in their existence should on the contrary be sublimated and used for progress and higher development, to prepare the advent of the new race. But first the vital and the physical must be freed from all desire, otherwise there is a great risk of disaster.
~ The Mother, CWM, Vol. 12, pp. 377-378
The strength of such impulses as those of sex lies usually in the fact that people take too much notice of them; they protest too vehemently and endeavour to control them by coercion, hold them within and sit upon them.
But the more you think of a thing and say, “I don’t want it, I don’t want it”, the more you are bound to it. What you should do is to keep the thing away from you, to dissociate from it, take as little notice of it as possible and, even if you happen to think of it, remain indifferent and unconcerned [. . .]
[. . .] The whole world is full of the poison. You take it in with every breath. If you exchange a few words with an undesirable man or even if such a man merely passes by you, you may catch the contagion from him. It is sufficient for you to come near a place where there is plague in order to be infected with its poison; you need not know at all that it is there. You can lose in a few minutes what it has taken you months to gain.
So long as you belong to humanity and so long as you lead the ordinary life, it does not matter much if you mix with the people of the world; but if you want the divine life, you will have to be exceedingly careful about your company and your environment.
~ The Mother, CWM, Vol. 3, pp. 5-7
You are attaching too much importance to this sex affair.
Do not think of it at all—be interested in more interesting activities, try to grow in knowledge and consciousness and kick away the sex thought and the sex impulse when it comes—then you can hope of becoming one of my soldiers.
~ The Mother, CWM, Vol. 12, p. 157
Sri Aurobindo on Education for Character Development
~ Design: Beloo Mehra