Education of the Individual: A Return to the Undivided

Philosophy and Opinion

In the old days, before institutionalized education, children were brought to the churches and temples of their villages, for it was understood that learning was sacred. In some places, children were left to their own, although always under a watchful eye, to begin to shape their own impressions of the world, for it was understood that the developing mind must find the soul walking on all paths. The old days have come and gone, remembered as a distant, fading memory. Charmed in romance, the old ideas of the past linger on the fringes of society where few wander any longer. What used to be the iwikuamoʻo of society – the backbone -, the kamole – the taproot-, is now left contained within stories unexpressed, like a seed that cannot germinate.

Today, education is an indentured servant to society. In other words, education has been commandeered by the essentialism of a utilitarian government, bent and broken into a mechanism for developing individuals into productive members of society. Well-intentioned, but inherently flawed, education in the modern-day emphasizes the value of whole-process development while paradoxically seeking specialization of each unique individual. Through all of its intent and carefully crafted agendas, modern education sees the value of each individual as befitting to the order of its master: society. It is only at the philosophical level that we may begin to see the brittle infrastructure of such an institution. And we need not look any further than the concept of individuality. It is here we meet face to face with the contradictions and misplaced role of education in society. We find that our beliefs are shaped by the way in which we use the very words that constitute our world view. To return to a philosophy of education founded upon the actual principles of the individual requires, like all confusions and conflicts in life, a return to an origin of meaning.

The word ‘individual’  finds its origins in the ancient language of Latin. Made up of two parts, ‘in’ – not – and ‘dividuus’ – divisible – , individual means undivided. In society, education is the conduit in which the individual meets the world at large and begins to formulate their individuality around. In some sense, education has taken upon itself the parenting role, as the child leaves the environment of home and is placed into the stimulative environment which firstly provides the basic needs of food, shelter, and safety. The observation that the individual is taken from one environment and placed into another is and of itself a predicament, in the sense that it already contradicts Education’s value in the individual – for it is dividing up the child’s experience of the world, and a child’s experience is what shapes the individual, the undivided being.

Because the inherent structure of Education immediately contradicts the whole process of the individual, any remedies made within this structure will fall short from meeting the needs of the growing pupil. Therefore, if I am to follow the same mainstream philosophical approach to education under the constitution of valuing the individual, then I must confront the blaring contradiction rooted in the foundation of this philosophy, and from there heed my own radical approach.

Let us begin with the student, for it is the student who represents the true subject on the matter of education. The student represents that which is vulnerable in society. By the time the student reaches adolescence, their vulnerability takes the form of initiation into the world, both in terms of the responsibility expected of them as they enter secondary education, and also biologically as their bodies begin metamorphosing into maturity. As the focus of this philosophy, the adolescent reflects to us what we find most valuable in the world. We look at our students and ask ourselves: what is worth passing down? And how?

The student is a role in which the individual embodies in order to allow the process of learning to be enacted. By the time a child has progressed into their teens, they are well acquainted with the role as a student, at least habitually, but may yet still be confused as to what that role entails in actuality. In the words of Michael Meade, a mythologist and renowned storyteller, “Education at a deep level means to ‘lead out’ what is trying to be born from within.” The student is undergoing the process of bringing out their own individual uniqueness. This process requires an utmost level of vulnerability on the part of the student as they navigate their sense of self in relation to the world. As a student, the individual’s role is to stay true and centered, undivided by the external forces at play which tempt the student into submission through inherent structures of habitualized behavior, and disciplinary cognitive patterning. It is the role of the individual student to excel in education based on their own desires and motivations and not by the ambitions of the teacher, family, school, or education institution. Assuming this role as a student can only be accomplished through radically altering the role of the teacher, who must resist the temptation of imparting their own ideals onto the student.

As I fly towards the glory of becoming a teacher, I found myself caught in the inevitable web of expectation. If following the same philosophical principle of valuing the student as an individual, then the role of the teacher is to guide the awakening of the inner-self of the student. Today, the teacher has become a mediator between the student and the school, caught in a web in which the more the teacher struggles against the idealism of the school, the sooner the spider bites down and paralyzes the teacher. A teacher models the mastery of the individual, and through this mastery, the student sees the teacher not as an imposing force of conformity and obedience, but rather a source of inquiry and understanding into the complexity of being. This is especially important in a changing world in which a body of students come from diverse backgrounds. Much conformity has already occured within an adolescent’s life, and so the successful teacher must seek mutual respect not based on the discipline of habit; a mechanized form of respect, but instead based on the freedom of the individual from ideologies of others.

The ideological teacher builds a different kind of relationship with the individual that is not consistent with the role of a student. If a student only learns that they must perform well based on the expected outcome of others, then they will only learn veneration for their teacher through fear of reward or punishment. This inconsistency of fostering the individual leads to the student’s internalization of the teacher as a representation and thus false understanding of society – something to become subservient to.

For an individual, like myself, to subsume the role of a middle school teacher consistent with the young adolescent’s role as a student, I must not react to the symptomatic ailments of a child’s emotional or cognitive behavior, but rather pry deeper into the cause of disorderliness to find its true source. Otherwise, learning inside the domain of the teacher’s space cannot occur. A teacher must be fully invested in the complexities of the whole being while simultaneously avoiding the web of ideology and self-ambition.

The school attempts to represent the world as a whole. It is an abstracted form of reality designed to model the implicit development that occurs within the individual as they move through life. Education has taken up the role of creating an enriched learning environment. The student who passes through the program exceeding the standards, which constitute the learning environment, will be well-equipped to engage in the world independently and productively. But if the purpose of education is to truly align with the valuing of each individual student, then it would need to be in service of the student, instead of the student being in service to the school which as an institution is locked into the conditioning of being subservient to the expectations of the both the State and Federal education committees.

As the foundation to my philosophy is a return to the true meaning of the individual; the undivided being, so then the management of my classroom and design of my curriculum appeal to the diverse population of students expected to be found in my classes. Focusing my philosophy on the undivided being recognizes that implicit in each individual is a soul calling out, or rather recalling, its purpose in life. The soul represents the uniqueness of each individual which transcends any cultural or societal norms already imparted on each student. The struggle I see in my approach is not so much in the challenge of maximizing learning in the environment I have autonomy over, but rather instead I forsee facing challenges with the surrounding environment of the school and the meta-environment of education as an institution.

Incorporating the diversity of families into education requires the fostering of right relationship between all parties. Right relationship relies upon the undertones of reciprocity in which an exchange of value occurs throughout. The value usually takes the form of voices simply being heard. Essential to this approach of reciprocity is the student whose education is what is of utmost concern. Cultural barriers, social conditioning, and belief blind-spots should all be taking into consideration when involving families in the student’s education for it is within this realm where prejudices and conflicts of interest arise with unwavering temperaments.

As the young adolescent confronts the totality of life, it is crucial their educational environment responds in kind. Within the expressed behaviorism of each individual lies clues into their purpose and drive in life. If education truly desires the highest rankings in academic performance for as many students as possible, then it is best to return to what makes actual sustainably productive members of society: a sense of self. Adolescence, beginning around intermediate grade level, is the threshold that determines how invested a child is in their own education, how willing they are to work hard and perform the best to their potentiality of ability and skill in each subject. If a child is left feeling divided in their sense of self, then they can no longer move forward as an individual who feels worthy of pursuing a life of their own. Academic excellence is merely a desirable by-product that arises from the truly valued individual as an undivided self.

Life is a Game: The Practice of Non-attachment.

Philosophy and Opinion

There are many attitudes on life we can adapt that will ultimately dictate how we go about living our individual lives. These attitudes are essentially what we choose to focus on in the perception of our experiences. This is where philosophy plays a critical role in the task of bringing peace and balance into a society; that which provides order to a people.

The attitude of life is a game is a philosophical metaphor  we have all heard. It has many ways of being interpreted. One of the most common interpretations of this attitude is don’t take life so seriously. Another well-known interpretation is  you’re dealt a hand in life, how are you going to play it? 

Many of these thoughts on life are an attempt to reduce the suffering one experiences through their own interpretation on life. Essentially, life is a game is yet another way of explaining the practice of the non-attachment relationship with life.

So then why is life just but a game? And what does it have to do with non-attachment?

You’re just joining your friends for an evening of board games. It’s a game you all enjoy, and have played often together. You know it well, and have learned your strengths and weaknesses. It’s a bit of strategic game, but like all games chance is involved. You all sit down to play the game. There are some ups and downs throughout the game for you and everyone else. Some players seem to be doing better than others. You get bummed when all your resources are taken, you celebrate when you gain another point. You feel a pang of disappointment when you don’t win, but it soon fades as the game ends and you all transition your evening into the next thing. Those who did well feel a bit more elated than when they began, and those who played poorly feel a certain sadness, but by the end everyone has completely moved on, focused on whatever is happening in the following moments life has to offer.

It’s a cold morning, the coldest of the year, but you’re excited. This Sunday your home football team is playing their rivals in your hometown. And you have tickets. You’re whole day is dedicated to the game. You get to the stadium hours early, all bundled up in your team’s colors. There are thousands of other slowly trickling in, all feeling charged up. The game does not disappoint. It is an especially good game because the teams go back and forth in taking the lead. You’re team doesn’t win, but they played their hearts out, and you love them for that. The day is ending, and its time to get home to your family for a nice warm dinner. The day’s excitement is still buzzing in your head as you drift to sleep, and perhaps it carries into the next day at work. But over time it fades. Just another game.

To practice non-attachment is not to rid your life of desires, hopes, and dreams. It is in no way to live out a life of isolation from reality. Nor is it freedom from pain or some nirvana state. But it is to recognize that everything will eventually find its end, and much of the suffering we endure in life is the inability to move on from our attachment to something that once was but no longer exists.

There was a time when humans lived closer to nature, and our constant understanding of reality was based solely upon the principles of the nature around us. It was a continual change of conditions, a highly temporal world as people’s very survival was contingent on their understandings of these changes and learning how to adapt. Quite naturally, the practice of non-attachment was an essential part of life. If you stayed attached, got too used to one way of living, you would surely die.

Today within the context of what we know as modern society, human populations live far more separated from nature and thus more embedded in a human cultural environment. These modern cultural environments exist in a state that is of great contrast to that of the natural world. Structurally, they are rigid and engineered with a permanence design. This kind of societal infrastructure consequently bleeds into the minds of those who dwell in such environments, i.e. probably anyone reading this blog today, and ultimately as it stains our perception of reality, we then internalize this and project it outwards, as it shapes our very identity, our behavior, and our actions.

It is ironic how through the modernizing of humanity the vast majority of us have come to believe we are closer than ever to living out practical and realistic lives, which in some cases is true, but this truth is almost entirely contained within a human construct. As in, we primarily receive information about the world through a secondary source – from other humans. We entrust the vast majority of our how we “see” the world to other human beings. This practice is just fine, so long as we are aware of this, that most of the information we know about our worl could very well be untrue.

This is the principle of non-attachment. It begins with not attaching to the information you are being fed day in and day out when you wake up, conscious, absorbing and accessing the world surrounding you. It begins with not attaching to your thoughts and ideas, these highly malleable and brief moments that wisps through your mind. It’s the freedom of being skeptical; something that the philosophy of science has made it’s foundation upon. The ending principle of the non-attachment way of life is to release yourself from the attachment to your own life, and sometimes even more importantly, to the lives of others.

This is no easy task. We have been programmed, as I said earlier, to attach ourselves to the physical and non-physical; to the material and the emotional realms of existence. It is intrinsic in the design of our society: that which governs our behavior. But to break free of the chain of attachment living is to free yourself from the draining burden of being stuck in a single state of being: the underlining product of attachment.

On either ends of this spectrum it can look like two contrasting extremes. On one end it is the perpetuating craving of a kind of manic state of being, in which you are constantly seeking stimulants to feed your addiction to achieve an elated state. The other end is that of depression, isolation, grief, and ultimately pain. Much, if not all sickness and disease come from the energetic being getting lodged into one extreme or the other, or, in another extreme, rapidly oscillate between a depressive state and manic: what we have come to know as Manic-depression or in some special cases, Bipolar.

When we begin to see life as a game, it is not to see life as any less real, it is in fact to see life for what it is. It is to take something that we have ironically labeled as “unreal”, a game, and project it onto our reality. When you can agree within yourself, changing the programming of your inner representation of reality, that life is just a game, then you will begin to sense within yourself a lightness. That feeling is the flowing movement of energy that you allow to move freely, for you have begun to remove the blockades, the “attachments” to one belief or another.

But the difficult task here is not creating that change of existence for yourself. That actually comes quite naturally when put into effect. It is the “believing” part that is the daunting task. You have to believe for yourself that content and freedom are states of being that do exist. So how do you unlearn what you have learned? How do you tell yourself to stop believing the ways of attachment, and start believing in the ways of non-attachment? Because I can tell you that right off the bat, you won’t want to believe what I’m saying.

And that’s a good thing, for you should be skeptical of anything and everything that you are told, that is a practice of non-attachment! But you also need to learn how to listen, so you can discern, and make truly free choices based on your ability to listen and discern the information you are receiving from the seemingly endless sources and resources available to you in this modern human world.

But let’s get back to this idea of life as a game, because I believe it is within this metaphor you may find some assurance, something that deep down inside you relate to, that you agreed with way before human society began to take its toll on the domestication of your being.

To return to truth, we must return to the beginnings of life.

Childhood. Play. Games have always existed inherently within us. We learn about ourselves, our world, and our place in it, through exploration and play. We observe the world around us, and our parents or guardians provide a safe-feeling space for us to play out what we observed, as well as provide a safe environment for us to reach outside of our comfort-zone and grow int0 our full potential – just like a well nurtured plant.

It is all too easy to forget the blissful state of a child raised in a safe, loving, environment. But it is not to say that these children are without emotional ups and downs. A child goes through an entanglement of emotions from screaming and kicking and what looks like absolute terror, to laughter and euphoria, all in a single day, sometimes even in a single moment. These children are not sick with manic-depressive behavior, they are merely not attaching to one form of being or the other, they are dancing through life as their operative selves were natural designed to do. Parent’s of these children often perceive this behavior as a kind of wildness, laughing off jokes about their child being a menace or little beast. And these parents I would argue aren’t too far from the truth, when calling their children such names. They are wild, they are beasts. But the understanding and interpretation behind these labels can go one of two ways – if told directly to the children with a negative connotation, as a form of putting down, it will steer the children away from such behavior, domesticating the child into a series of behavioral patterns which leads to attachment, for a children learns from the parents that their wildness, their playfulness, is not the correct way to act, and thus separates play from life. 

This is a from of growing up all too common in our educational system during middle childhood: the developmental ages of around 6 to 11 year olds. It’s not to say that a structured environment where a child learns discipline is not of value, on the contrary, it is about under-valuing the role of play in the early developmental stages of our younglings.

When we grow older and learn that there is a time to play, and a time not to play, we believe we are learning when certain behavior is acceptable, and when it is not, which is true, we are learning this. But how we are applying it to the greater aspects of life is  where I believe there are dire consequences that lead to a kind of collective dependency on attachment relationships, fear of loss/death, and thus an internal suffering.

When a loved one dies, there will be grief involved. When your partner breaks up with you, you will feel grief, and possibly anger. When you lose your job, or you’ve been unemployed for months and you begin to view yourself as unworthy, you are participating in the very self-destructive practice of attachment.

For all of us, we must go through life feeling the hardships and the loss, as well as the ease and joy and gains. These events in life are a natural process for the living. Death and birth, abundance and scarcity exist continuously throughout. When we accept this as natural, unavoidable, we can then open ourselves to the full process of living, and find bliss within every state of being, for bliss is the experience of life coursing through us.

As Master Qui-Gon Jim once said, “Remember, concentrate on the moment. Feel, don’t think. Trust your instincts. Your focus determines your reality.”

 

 

 

 

 

The Era of Hypocrisy and How to break free to the next Golden Era.

Philosophy and Opinion

Hypocrisy.

noun
  1. the practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one’s own behavior does not conform; pretense.
    Greek hupokrisis ‘acting of a theatrical part,’ from hupokrinesthai ‘play a part, pretend,

We’re all hypocrites. All of us. Even me.

Hypocrisy is a special kind of pretending. There is the pretending which is born from the art of theatre, in which a person is acting out a character other than their own, as was the original meaning of this word as it was used in Ancient Greece. Then there is the pretending which seems to have greatly evolved from such theatre. And that is the modern use of Hypocrisy.

Today, we participate in the Hypocrisy which more closely aligns with the concept self-manipulation. A hypocrite today is no longer a person acting out theatrical character. In other words the intent is not known, the intent is clouded in deceit. And more often than not, the intent is even hidden behind the curtains from the acting agent of the intent. The self-manipulation then evolved further into self-deceit.

Self Deceit.

Self-manipulation.

Hypocrisy.

And we are all living it. Self-deceit goes all the back to the Garden of Eden. It’s source of origin lies within the primordial soup of the conscious human mind as we awoke to our own awareness and found ourselves recording, for the first time, our very own existence. This time in human history, one that predates any historic accuracy, was an exciting and devastating transition for our species. It was a birth and a death all at once. It was a confrontation and awakening to the infinite source of Nirvana that many of our ancestors feared this spiritual actualization that they denied it’s full consequences. With the birth of our awakening, came all of humanity as we know it, and much of that history has been dominated by a sociological programming meant to prevent us from ever knowing it had occurred – thus severing the eternal bond between us and nature. We are all deceiving ourselves. We’ve done such a good job of it that we go along living out this belief based on deception, perpetuating a collective society’s conscious into oblivion, and we’re taking the rest of the precious planet with us.

The deception, or belief, or illusion, or dream, or maya – call it what you will – is this:

1) Everything in the past is gone, non-existent, dead.

2) All of the answers to our problems, discontent, diseases, depressions, anxieties, fears, conflict, and confusion, lie in the future. If we just keep pushing on through, and search for innovative new ways to adapt to a rapidly changing world with technologies and competitive markets, we’ll be okay.

Even Stephen Hawkings, one of the most respected international scientific figures said just the other day that this world, according to the numbers, is without a doubt doomed for disaster within the next 1,000 to 10,000 years.

1,000 years ago the first crusades began their wage across the globe, and the gospel of Christianity spread like a thick oil over all of humanity. Now it is found everywhere. Now we are extracting crude oil under the very same gospel: the gospel of hypocrisy.

You feel it. You know it’s there: this pit you can’t shake that sits in your gut waiting to be purged, but you swallow hard and curl up denying the pain you hold onto – the pain that has been passed down to you, inherited from generation to generation since the era of conscious awakening. That somehow you are not fully living, you never did. You were born and immediately after the trauma settled you began to feel the sensual persona of the universe all around you, but that feeling slowly diminished into a dark cellar. How disappointing.

I propose a single and simple solution to this life-long problem. Accept you are a hypocrite. Let that acceptance sink in. Stop fighting it. Then apologize for denying your own nature. And once you have finished apologizing, forgive yourself for playing out a false destiny. Once you have done that, and that could take some time, you will be ready to connect back to your nature, your truth, your destiny.

When we make a mistake, when others make a mistake, we must accept, apologize, and forgive, before we can ever move on. We have been playing out a tens of thousands of years of denial and anger. And we are going to have to accept it before it’s too late. Worry about yourself, and then help others. We can do this together, we can’t do it apart.

The Mythology in You: Where Our Stories Come From

Philosophy and Opinion

It seems that nearly every six months I go through some kind of transition in life, be it moving to a new place, the end of one job, the start of another… My life is always in constant flux. That’s my story. A kind of Hero’s Journey where the Hero finds himself detached from the normal social judgments and instead is leaping and bounding within the morals of his own art. For me, that art is seeking the source of all things. And there are two fundamental locations for this source: Our personal dreams, and our Society’s Mythologies. Have a read:

“Do you ever notice how our stories of both ancient and modern take on a fantastical quality? The fantastical quality, or, “themes” of our stories, originate from a source many many eons ago. And these fantastical themes or qualities of stories told by storytellers are actually inspired by our dreams. And our dreams, some might argue, are inspired by the internal psyche or the internal struggle.

Mythologies or stories are really just a projection of what is going on internally; inside of the human. They represent the psychological realm, the non-physical home of life. And so the physical world then just becomes a playing field, a playground for us to act out this internal struggle.

And so mythologies are told to us in this physical world, they are universal to each individual struggle, which are the dreams. So stories or mythologies then become some kind of guidebook to whats happening internally and it is our very dreams, our internal world, that somehow feeds the mythologies of our external world. There’s this reciprocity going on between our dreams feeding our mythologies and our mythologies guiding our dreams. Which means that your dreams are the accumulation of mythologies of the past. And that means that humanity, and life as we know it, is just a huge drama playing itself out since the beginning of time. And although your mortal body will die as the physical being we know it, your story, your inner-psyche, will live on.

Your inner psyche will live on as the food for the mythologies that will guide the next era. Just as your dreams and mythologies of today were fed by the eras that came before us. So although you in this physical state are an individual, your inner psyche is just a story that has been re-telling itself, continuously.

That is why cultures all around the world use storytelling as a means for healing, because it brings significance to an inwards suffering. You hear a story and you say, ‘huh, that sounds like what i’m going through,’ and your psyche identifies with the story and then it brings meaning to your suffering, and then the story that your psyche has identified with becomes a kind of map for you to overcome your suffering. And ultimately the goal is not to overcome your suffering, but to embrace it and see it for what it is. And by doing that, you are participating in the unfolding of the universe!

That’s my Story!”