Education in the real sense is to liberate people from ignorance and the darkness of the mind. At least it was the original meaning in India and elsewhere in the world. But contemporary education teaches ambition, violence and competing with others. A child enters the primary class and we expect him to top the class. If there are 50 students in a class, only one of them can be first. It means the happiness of one student is being based on the misery and frustration of the remaining 49. Who will take care of the depression of those students who are not rewarded? Aren’t we sowing seeds of hatred and competition in their young minds?
In ancient India, education meant a harmonious development of the being. It included the body, the mind and the soul. The sage saw to it that his student’s heart grows as much as his intellect.
Here is an interesting anecdote from the Upanishads, cited by Osho: In a school run by an old seer, three students were declared successful in their final examination. However, their teacher was telling them every now and then that the last examination was still to be taken. The last day of school arrived but their final examination was still not taken. The students kept quiet — perhaps the teacher had forgotten. They packed their bedding and went to their teacher in the evening to receive his last blessings before departure and then left him. On their way back they were thinking of the last examination. It was late in the evening and they had to reach the next village before nightfall. The road was rough and passed through a jungle. It was getting dark and there were wild animals in the area. They saw a narrow path through a thicket covered with lots of thorns.
One of the students jumped over the thorns. The second student went down the side road and bypassed the thorns. The third student put down his belongings and slowly started collecting the thorns and throwing them out of the way. His friends said, “Are you mad? — darkness is descending — we have to reach the village fast. There is no time to pick up the thorns!” The third one replied, “If it was daytime there would be no danger — whoever passed would see the thorns.
But after we pass by it will be so dark that the thorns will not be seen. If knowing this we pass by without thinking about those who may follow, our education will be meaningless.”
Meanwhile, the seer who was hiding in the bush jumped out. He himself had put the thorns on the path. It was their final examination. The seer said, “The other two students who had already crossed the thorns should go back to the school — they had failed in the last examination. Only the third student, who had cleared away the thorns cleared the final examination as well.” One who sees the thorns on the path and, ignoring them, passes by, is bound someday to spread thorns on others’ paths. But one who would clear the thorns for others will one day spread flowers on the road for them. He is truly educated.