The University of Life

posted on 30 June 2010 | posted in Information

Academic education normally prepares us to face the social, financial, economic and psychological aspects of life. We can therefore say that whatever we learn in schools and universities teaches us to contribute to life in such a way so as to enable us to secure food, clothing, shelter and a few sensual pleasures. With the best technological devices and scientific discoveries, we have failed insofar as our real nature is concerned. It is said that man is a social animal, to which I agree, but that is not the whole truth. Man is a potential, not only does he conceal the possibility of becoming animal, but also of becoming divine. This is an irony: the more we are moving further in scientific development, the more man is becoming barbarous. In every nook, there are crimes, rapes, burglaries, fights and other real yet unbelievable evil things. So much money is spent in armament yet man has failed to discover the secrets of human behaviour. Psychology has made a good progress in discovering that man is an unconscious being as unconsciousness forms the greatest part of his mind. Despite this, it has failed to give man the ultimate satisfaction towards which he is running madly, though unconsciously. Today and as always, who is not seeking peace, bliss and omnipotence?

Though we possess the richness of modern education, money and advanced technology, yet we are filled with greed, anger, lust, hatred, jealousy and innumerable evil qualities that make us an enemy to both ourselves and others. Scientific education is good and even indispensable for a comfortable material life. But without emotional development, man has become a robot. By emotional development, I do not mean that we should be taught how to be drowned or veiled by sentiments that flow from our heart, but the development of compassion, sympathy, forgiveness, tolerance and sharing which should be the foremost qualities of a loving heart.

Therefore, man should be active not only mentally, but we should see to it that his heart also grows so as to create a complete human being. An intellectually developed person is only half human, while an emotionally and intellectually grown person is a complete human being. Hence, our education system should be such that it gives us a sound body, mind and heart. In this connection, there should be more emphasis on art, culture and religion in the school curriculum. Man is both scientific and artistic. Art, poetry, culture and religion will fill a missing dimension in his life. In this way, there would be less criminals, drug addicts and greedy persons.
Man, however, is not meant to end up as mere human being. He conceals a spark of the Divine, which can grow into an infinite flame. In fact, man is on a journey from animal through man to the Divine. The end of his journey is Divinity. If he rests content with being human, then the ultimate goal is missed. Apart from being a body and a mind, man is a soul too. Life is a university from where he has to learn the art and science of gaining his status as a soul, hence as Divinity. The whole of life is brought to help man to achieve that blessed end. One incarnation in the university of life is one class. After going through different classes, one learns the secret concerning the reality and oneness of God, man and the creation.

The human mind is such a seed that can only be unfolded after passing through innumerable animal as well as human lives. We have already said that man is a social animal. Thus, the animal aspect of his mind should find complete fulfilment. But this can happen in an animal body in the animal kingdom. A strange mishap has befallen man. Though he has acquired a human body, he behaves as if he was still an animal. The reason for this is that the world appearance, which is the hypnotiser par excellence, draws man towards it, thus preventing the expansion of his consciousness. The expansion of human consciousness is the key stage in the development of human mind into the Divine Mind. Nature, in her compassion, has provided us with enlightened ones who have gone beyond the snares of the hypnotic world. They have produced methods and devices and also have written scriptures so as to help man to attain freedom from the grip of the ignorance that one is only a body meant to enjoy the pleasures of the world.

To enable man to enjoy a complete human life, he has been endowed with innumerable opportunities in thousands of incarnations. Using the human nature as an aid, he has to move forward to the Divine. Throughout life, man learns continuously. At home, when he is a baby, he acquires basic skills in the bosom of his mother. She is thus his first teacher. When he becomes a child, man learns at school from his teachers, friends and environment. During adulthood, he becomes more active socially, thus he learns through his own experiences from his married life and society. The last lessons are learnt from contemplation and solitude as the end of life approaches. However, this demands a training and one has to start at a young age. While material education answers to our material needs, spiritual education trains and prepares us to attain to cosmic consciousness, which is the true worth of a human life.

The spiritual education consists of giving us a sound body, a pure heart and an enlightened mind. Meditation, yoga, self-introspection, study of scriptures are the summum bonum of spiritual education. All these have to be done under the guidance of a competent guide or master. The lessons of spiritual life are taught by everything in the university of life. The tree, for example, teaches us forbearance, patience, generosity, forgiveness and other virtues. It supports everything calmly, gives shade to everyone without discrimination and lives always in the present moment.

The Guru or the spiritual guide is the foremost teacher on the ladder of spiritual evolution. The daily events of our life are test papers set before us so that we may learn and develop the divine qualities latent in us. A successful human life consists of living in complete harmony with the laws of Nature and fulfilling one’s duty with the utmost righteousness. This will automatically contribute to a large extent to unfold the divine Spirit latent in us. Man is a body, a mind and a soul; his actions and thoughts should be spiritually oriented. In other words, whatever he does should be done in such a way that he is spiritually uplifted. That is the way to social harmony, peace and eternal happiness.


Swami Paramananda