DEMOCRACY IS SELF-GOVERNMENT

Harold W. Percival

PART II

CONCERNING EDUCATION

Schooling of the individual is excellent, not to be dispensed with; but schooling is not education. Schooling, scholarship, or what is commonly called education, is the training of the conscious Doer in the body in the usages and cultural habits of thoughts, and familiarity with conventional amenities and the refinements of speech.

Education, as the word suggests, is to educe or elicit, to draw, or lead out what is latent in the one to be educated.

Schooling is almost always a handicap and a hindrance—if it begins before education. Why? Because the instruction received in schooling is taken in by the senses as impressions and developed into memories; memories of sights, sounds, tastes and smells, together with the instructions concerning the meanings of the impressions. The memory-impressions restrain the intelligent Doer; they check its originality and self-reliance. It is better for the child that its teacher be an educator, rather than an instructor or drillmaster. Constant instruction compels the Doer to rely upon and consult textbooks instead of first consulting or calling upon its own inherent knowledge on any subject; the pre-knowledge which is its inner self. Schooling almost always disqualifies the individual Doer from its possibilities for education.

Education should apply to the embodied Doer that is conscious of a Self, of identity. The body is not a Self; it is not an identity; it is not conscious as a body; it is not conscious of any of the constituents of which it as a body is composed; the body is constantly changing. Yet, through all the changes of the body there is a conscious individual Doer in it and pervading it; a Doer which identifies or lends identity to the body—from early childhood to the death of the body. The body may be exercised and trained but it cannot be educated, because it is not an individual and it cannot be intelligent. The life of the human body is divided into periods or ages. The first age is babyhood. From the time of birth the baby is to be trained in the use of the senses: trained to smell, to hear, to taste and to see. The training should be done systematically; but it usually goes on in a haphazard way because the nurse or mother does not know what the senses are, nor how to train them. The infant is only a helpless little animal, without the natural impulses and instincts to protect itself. But as it is to become human it must be cared for and protected, until such time as it can look out for itself. It is introduced to objects and is trained to repeat their names, as a parrot repeats. During the baby-age it can repeat words and sentences, but it cannot ask intelligent questions, nor understand what it is told, because as yet the conscious Doer has not entered that infant animal body.

Babyhood ends when the Doer takes up its residence in the body. Then childhood begins; the little being is a human. Proof that the Doer is in the child is given by the intelligent questions it asks, and by its understanding the answers—if the answers are competent. Sometime after the Doer has experienced its first shock at finding itself in this strange world, when the body is about from two to five years old, the child will in all probability ask its mother the questions: Who am I? Where am I? Where did I come from? How did I get here? No parrot or other animal can think of or ask one of these questions. It is necessary for one to be intelligent to ask such questions. And, for one to ask such questions, that one must have been conscious of itself before it entered into and took up residence in the child-body.

Education of the Doer in that body should begin when any one of these questions is asked, and the mother should be prepared for the occasion. Her mental attitude should be that she speaks to an invisible one from another realm, who is related to her and who has come to take up its abode with her.

Of course the mother of that child-body cannot tell the intelligent Doer in it about itself because she does not know what that something is which is conscious of identity in her own body. A mother thinks she must, and she does, deceive the Doer in her child by telling it what is not true. But the Doer knows that what she says is not so. No man or woman who has passed through the partition of forgetfulness by which kind fortune removes those impressions, can realize the lost and homesick feeling that causes many a Doer to ask, “What am I?” and “Where am I?” Nor can one feel the disappointment of the Doer in that child when it is given the usual falsehoods as answers to its questions. The Doer knows that it is not the body. And it knows the answers to be untruths,—answers which cause it to suspect and distrust the mother, or the one who gave such answers. Knowing that what it is told is not so, the Doer in the child stops questioning. And for a long time it suffers the sadness of its situation.

When the mother is questioned by the Doer in her child about itself, she can in her own way answer in some such words as these: “O, my dear! I am so glad you are here. Father and I have been waiting for you, and we are glad that you have come, and that you are going to be with us.” This will give welcome to the Doer, and will make it conscious that the mother of the body it is in understands that it is not the strange body in which it is conscious of itself, and it will trust and have confidence in the mother. Then, depending on its reply and further questioning, she can say to the Doer, in her own way: “You have come from a different world; and in order for you to come into this world, Father and I had to get a body of this world for you, so that you can live in it. It took a long time for the body to grow, and a long time to train it to see and hear and to speak, but at last it was ready for you. You have come, and we are glad. I will tell you about the body you are in, and how to use it, because you have come here to learn about the world, and to do many things in the world, and you will need your body so that with it you can do things in the world. We gave your body a name, but unless you tell me by what name I shall call you I will have to speak to you by the name of your body. Perhaps you have forgotten who you are, but when you remember you can tell me. Now you can tell me something about yourself. Tell me if you can remember, who you are? Where did you come from? When did you first find yourself here?” Between questions sufficient time should be allowed so that the Doer may think and be able to answer, if it can; and the questions should be varied and repeated.

And the mother may continue, “We are going to be great friends. I will tell you about the things you see in the world, and you will try and tell me about yourself, and about where you came from, and about how you got here, won’t you?”

These statements can be made and the questions asked whenever the time and the occasion permit. But speaking to it in this way will put the Doer at its ease and let it feel that the mother is a friend who understands the condition it is in, and it is likely to confide in her.

The education of the conscious Doer in the body is made possible by opening, and keeping open, the way between it and the other parts of itself not in the body. Then it will be quite possible for it to draw from its Thinker and Knower some of that vast knowledge which in the Doer is potential only. That Doer in any human who can establish communication with its Thinker and Knower, especially from childhood, will open to the world the source of knowledge great beyond the most exalted dreams of humans.

Most important for all people is the understanding and practice of morality: to know and do what is right and just. If the Doer can remain conscious of itself and of its Thinker and Knower, it will not be persuaded to do what is wrong.

The Doer uses the body-mind, the feeling-mind, and the desire-mind. The body-mind should be held in abeyance until the Doer learns to use the other two. If it is made to use the body-mind in early childhood, before the other two are exercised, the body-mind will dominate and hinder the use of the feeling-mind and desire-mind, except in so far as they can be made to serve as auxiliaries to the body-mind. The body-mind is for the service of the body and the senses and the objects of the senses. It is not possible for the body-mind to think there is anything other than the body and the objects of nature. Therefore, when once the body-mind dominates the feeling-mind and the desire-mind, it is well nigh impossible for the Doer in the body to think of its feeling or of its desire as being different from the body. That is why it is important that the Doer be helped to think with its feeling-mind and the desire-mind before the body-mind is exercised.

If the Doer is in the body of a boy it will think with its desire-mind; if it occupies a girl-body, it will think with the feeling-mind. The distinguishing difference between the thinking of the Doer in a man-body and that of the Doer in a woman-body is this: the Doer in a man-body thinks according to the sex of the body which, in structure and function, is desire; and the Doer in a woman-body thinks according to the sex of the body which, in structure and function, is feeling. And because the body-mind is invariably given control of the other two minds, the Doer in the man and the Doer in the woman is each compelled by the body-mind to think in terms of the sex of the body in which it is. The understanding of these facts will become the basis of a real psychology.

The Doer in the child can be told that it should first inquire of itself for the information it seeks before asking others: that it should itself try to understand, and to verify what it is told.

The subject of the thinking determines with which of the three minds the Doer is thinking. When the Doer in the child gives evidence to the mother or guardian that it understands that it is not the body, and that it can consider itself as the feeling-and-desire of an identity in the body, then its schooling can begin.

Schooling, at present called education, is, at best the practice of memorization. And it would seem that the purpose of teachers is to crowd into the minds of the scholar the greatest quantity of facts in the shortest possible time. There is little effort to make the subjects interesting. But there is the repeated statement: Remember! Remember! This makes of an individual an automatic memory operator. That is, one who receives and retains the impressions of what it is shown or told by the instructors, and who can act on or reproduce the impressions of what was seen or heard. The scholar gets his diploma for reproducing what he has seen and heard. He has been charged to remember so many statements about the numerous subjects which he is supposed to understand, that there is barely time to remember the statements. There is no time for true understanding. At graduation exercises the certificate of scholarship is awarded to those of a class whose memories give the required answer. Their education, therefore, must begin after school—by experience, and the understanding that comes from self-examination.

But when the Doer in the body understands that it is the Doer and is not the body, which it makes do the things that are done, and when it knows by communing with itself it has solved problems that are not solved in the books, then that one will benefit from schooling because it will understand as well as remember what it studies.

The Doers in the really great men of the world who have been of benefit to mankind by their discovery of laws and the enunciation of principles, did not find the laws or principles in books, but in themselves. Then the laws or principles were entered in the books.