Zen students are with their masters at least ten years before they presume to teach others. Nan-in was visited by Tenno, who, having passed his apprenticeship, had become a teacher. The day happened to be rainy, so Tenno wore wooden clogs and carried an umbrella. 

After greeting him Nan-in remarked: “I suppose you left your wooden clogs in the vestibule. I want to know if your umbrella is on the right or left side of the clogs.”

Tenno, confused, had no instant answer. He realized that he was unable to carry his Zen every minute.

He became Nan-in’s pupil and he studied six more years to accomplish his every-minute Zen.

Complete Education

When Nan-In said that – I want to know if your umbrella is on the right or left side of the clogs. Tenno realized that what he has studied Every-Minute Zen he has not practiced. His education is incomplete. So he became a Nan-In pupil for 6 years.

Our whole education is rotten. It certainly makes you clerks, stationmasters, postmen, police commissioners. It gives you a livelihood, but it does not give you life, and it does not give you love.

One-third of our education should be concerned with livelihood; one-third of our education should be concerned with our well-being – body, health, ways to stay younger and live longer. And one-third – the last and the most important – should be concerned with love, with death, and the secrets of life itself. Only then will we have a wholesome education. And through that education, we can create a man and a society which will be healthy, youthful, loving, soulful, overflowing with joy, always ready to share with anyone – because nobody is a stranger on the earth; the whole earth is one family.

All education remains part of the mind; it does not make you more alert, more conscious, it simply fills you with information. It treats you like a computer. Society’s whole interest is in how to exploit you, how to enslave you, how to use you in a more efficient way, almost like a machine. It gives you all the education just for these hidden, secret aims. It prevents you from knowing anything about meditation.

This is what our education goes on teaching… our education is immensely destructive. In the name of education, it is mis-education. It needs to be completely changed and transformed. Things like ambition, success, comparison, have to be completely taken out of the human mind – and it is possible. Rather than teaching these ugly things, education should give people better ways of life, how to live more totally and more intensely; better ways of loving, better ways of beautifying existence – without any comparison with others – just for your sheer contentment.

Your education teaches you to imitate, your religions teach you to imitate. Nobody says to you: “Just be yourself – that’s where your paradise lies.” They go on saying to you, “Follow this, imitate that.” They give you ideals: “Become a Gautam Buddha, or a Jesus Christ.” But never, even by mistake, do they say to you, “Just be yourself; relax and enjoy your being, and bring your potential to its maximum unfoldment.”

A sannyasin has to be both: the peace, the silence, the light, the qualities of his inner being, and a rebel against all injustice, against all inhumanity. But for a creative purpose, to materialize a dream of an authentic human society which will be able to give equal opportunity to all, freedom to all, education which is nonviolent, education which is not only informative but also transformative, an education that will make you more of an individual and bring the best in you to its flowering.

Learning from the story Every-Minute Zen: Complete Education

Experience Learning

Education is not bringing peace and silence and blissfulness to people. There is something missing in it; it is only education in subjects which do not touch your interior being at all. They may make you doctors, engineers, professors, but they do not give you the insight that can create a Gautam Buddha in you. The true meaning of the word “education” is “to draw out.” But all that your so-called education does is to force in. From outside, borrowed knowledge is being forced into the minds of innocent children.

In my vision, education is nothing but another form of meditation. All that usually goes on in the name of education is secondary. The priority should be given to meditation – education of the inner. Unless you become acquainted with yourself, all your knowledge is useless.

So before education I would put meditation. Education is trivia: geography, history, arithmetic. It is good as far as the mundane world is concerned, but it is not good as far as your interiority is concerned. You go on accumulating degrees and inside you remain empty. Your degrees can befool people, may even befool yourself, but you cannot have the joy, the blissfulness, the peace, the silence, the compassion of a Gautam Buddha. And unless education has two wings, it cannot fly in the sky in total freedom. Right now it has only one wing; the other wing is missing. Why is it missing? Because the priests don’t want you to become meditators.

To me, charity first means the education of the inner; and only secondarily, it means education of other things. “Know thyself” must be the most precious education, and then you can become acquainted with everything else. A man who knows himself will never misuse his education in the outer world. Otherwise, when you don’t know yourself, you are going to use your education to exploit people, to create poverty.

Education is certainly needed; but before education, meditation is needed. Anybody who becomes a graduate – either an engineer or a doctor or a professor – should not be able to have his degree unless he also passes his examinations in meditation. Each university and each college should have classes for meditation for the students – and for people from outside also; they may not have been able in their youth to learn meditation, but now they can learn.

We just have to create people who are evidence of right education. An education is complete when it is inner and outer both. And we have to create people who can change this whole exploitative structure with love and compassion in a democratic way. There is no need for any violence. The poor just have to be made aware: It is time for you to wake up; everything belongs to you.

We have to find a human kind of education in the world; the education that exists is very inhuman. We have to find ways so that children can play in the sun and still learn a little arithmetic. That can be done – once we know that arithmetic is not so important as playing in the sun, once that thing has been decided, then we can find ways. A little arithmetic can be taught, and a little is needed. Everybody is not going to become an Albert Einstein. And those who are going to become Albert Einsteins, they won’t bother playing in the sun – their joy is arithmetic, that is their poetry. Then it is different, then it is totally different; then the growth is not hindered and guilt is not created.

Our whole education system is based on giving ready-made answers. Because of those ready-made answers you never develop your intelligence; there is no need. You ask the question and a computer teacher answers them.


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