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How important is education of the self? || Acharya Prashant, with students (2014)
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
6 min
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Acharya Prashant (AP): Over the last fifteen years or so of your education, what have you studied? You have studied languages, Hindi and English. You have studied history, politics, and geography. Then you got into maths, physics, chemistry, and now you are students of technology. This is what you have studied. This is what you mean by results.

Are you Hindi, English, or Sanskrit? Are you the laws of physics? Are you the formula in chemistry? Are you the theorems of mathematics?

Questioner (Q): No, sir.

AP: Too bad! Are you the rivers, mountains, and glaciers that you read of in geography? Are you the wars that the kings fought and their respective domains? Are you Akbar or Ashoka? Are you a software? Are you a hardware? Are you a motorcycle engine? Are you an electrical circuit?

This is what you have studied so far. Don’t you see that all these are things outside of yourself?

Somebody wrote the constitution and you are reading the constitution. You are studying how this tubelight works, but are you this tubelight? This is what your normal education has given you so far: knowledge about other things, objects. But are you other things? You are not other things.

Has your education ever brought you close to yourself? It has taught you about the wall, about the curtains, about the projector, about the mic, about the camera, about the floor, but has it ever told you anything about yourself? Has it ever told you anything about your heart? Has it ever told you what freedom of mind is? Has it ever asked you to pay attention to love?

Has it ever raised this question to you: Who am I?

Now, I am asking you: what is more important, all the objects around you, or you? What is more important?

Is the sofa more important, or is the man sitting on the sofa more important? Quickly! Is the mobile phone more important, or is the man holding the mobile phone more important? Unfortunately, your education is such that it will tell you everything about the mobile phone and nothing about the man. Is the theorem of mathematics more important, or is the mind that solves the question more important? Mathematics or mind?

Q: Mind.

AP: Lorentz theorem or love? Quickly!


Not so sure here. And this is such a tragedy, that those who are setting the syllabi know nothing about life. That is why they keep filling up your mind with knowledge about this and that. They ask you to keep looking outwards, but they will never tell you to look inwards.

And that is the reason why you have a very peculiar situation. We are living in a world where objects are wonderful, beautiful, shining, polished, sophisticated—and man is ugly.

Man has learnt the secrets of the atom. He has been able to break open the nucleus—because all these are objects outside of yourself—and what has he done with nuclear energy? Created bombs—bombs that can destroy the Earth a thousand times.

More and more advanced equipments are coming, and what are you doing with those equipments? What is the point in holding the most sophisticated mobile phone in your hands if your mind only wants to gossip using that phone? Now, is the mobile phone a boon or a curse?

Q: A curse.

AP: Because you know everything about the mobile but you know nothing about the mind, so you will only use the mobile phone to gossip.

That is what happens as a result of our normal education. Great advances in science, and what happens out of that? You keep producing and consuming.

So, the climate change—and climate change of such devastating nature that the Earth is feverish today. The average global temperatures have already risen by around one degree centigrade. And in your lifetime, in the next twenty years, forty years, you might see the end of many cities—only because of our education, an education that does not know the human being, that never asks, “What is it to be human? How does the mind work? What is the source of the mind?”

When you have education of this kind, you will only get devastation. You will get people who will have all the comforts in life, all the material possessions, and still they have a deep anguish in their heart, still they have a restlessness, and they do not know how to get rid of that restlessness. This is what your education is doing.

Now, you decide what is more important. You decide.

Man is closer to complete annihilation today than he was ever in the history of mankind. You know, even the ancient man, who had no science, no means to defend himself, even he was in a less problematic situation. At least he did not face the realistic possibility of being wiped off from the face of this planet.

And what have all your technological advancements given you? They have given you eight billion people. Eight billion people, that is what the population of the Earth is today. And to be eight billion, you have killed rivers. Thousands of species are extinct today just so that there could be eight billion human beings. Do you understand how much of resources are required to sustain these eight billion people? And that is what your education is doing: resource generation, how to have more and more resources so that these eight billion can survive and maybe become ten billion or fifteen billion, and kill more of the birds, more animals. Mountains are being denuded. Rivers are no more.

lease know what it is to be really educated. I never tire of telling my audiences, never, I repeat it endlessly, that if all your education is kept on one side and self-education is kept on the other side, then self-education is more valuable than the rest of your education put together.

Self-education is a thousand times more valuable than the rest of your education put together.

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