What we call education is just an organised approach to the fundamental human longing to know, to be free from ignorance.
What areas of knowledge open up in an individual’s life varies from person to person, but every human being essentially wants to be free from the ignorance that they are bound by.
Education is an aspiration for inclusion – to expand your horizons and bring larger aspects into your life.
You read something that happened a thousand years ago or you read about a group of people who are living in some other corner of the world because, in some way, you want to include that act into your life.
Inclusion through knowledge
This is an aspiration for inclusion through knowing.
Unfortunately, modern education is constantly training people to think only about themselves and nothing else. For example, our idea of science today is how to exploit everything in the universe.
There is nothing wrong with science itself, but there is a deeply set attitude in the human mind that everything must be exploited for our benefit.
Initially, you use the planet, then the trees and plants, then animals, then, of course, even human beings for your comfort and convenience. It is the educated, not the illiterate, who are threatening the planet.
Destroying the environment wantonly and then talking about protecting it is just a patch-up job.
What is needed is that we address the exploitative nature of today’s education.
Education as empowerment
Education is not about an aspiration for power, but it leaves one hugely empowered.
When people are empowered but have no love in their heart, it is very dangerous. We will end up with tyrants. Before being empowered, you must have a sense of inclusiveness.
This is why in Indian culture, education always started only after certain initiations, where, in some experiential way, it is brought about in the child’s life that he feels for everything in existence.
Traditionally, the basic mantra which was taught to the child was "Aham Brahmasmi", which literally means “I am the Brahman,” or, in other words, it means “My identity is cosmic”. When the child chanted this, he or she was taking responsibility for everything around them.
The idea was that before you empower them with mathematics, astronomy, science or anything else, you must ensure that their identity is not limited, that they take on a universal identity.
The understanding was that only those who have gone through this must be given the power of education.
Power is needed. Without it, nothing will happen in the world. But we need someone who conducts power softly, gently, not brutally.
Becoming exclusive or special is one kind of power, but the power that comes out of becoming very ordinary and inclusive is of a different kind – a soft power.
Responsibility and inclusion
In the name of individuality, I think some cultures have gone into an extreme sense of exclusion. They cannot get along with anyone any more, simply because of some very fancy ideas of independence and freedom.
When challenging times arise in one’s life, those who are thinking only in terms of their personal freedom will suffer.
We have no control over what kind of situations our children will go through tomorrow in their lives. But today we have the opportunity to empower them in such a way that no matter what, they will go through it gracefully, with some mental and emotional balance.
If this has to happen, it is extremely important that you do not poison their minds with some silly ideas of freedom.
Instead, we should always ensure their attitude is about responsibility, inclusion, contribution and constantly seeing how to make a difference around them.
If they are empowered through education like this, wherever they go they will go through it joyfully.
Sadhguru is a yogi, mystic, internationally renowned speaker and bestselling author. He regularly speaks at major global forums including the United Nations headquarters and the World Economic Forum.
He also founded Isha Vidhya, an education initiative that aims to transform the lives of rural children by providing affordable, high-quality English language-based, computer-aided education