Chapter 1: Teacher, Society and Revolution
A teacher, who has no such flame of rebellion within him, will become an agent of some policy, some interest be it of society, be it of religion, or be it of politics. Every teacher must have that burning fire of rebellion, of thinking and of reflecting. But have we got that fire of independent thinking? If not, are we anything more than shopkeepers?
To be a teacher is a great thing. What is the meaning of being a teacher? Do we ever think about it?
You may be teaching the children, as is taught all over the world, that they should love others. But have you ever thought that the whole structure of your education is built not on love but on competition? You claim to teach love, but the whole arrangement is to teach competition. Where there is competition there can be no love. Competition is a form of envy, a sort of burning sensation, jealousy. What are you teaching?
When one child comes first in a class, the other child is told that he is lagging behind and this fellow has come first. You are teaching him to flatter, to compete and get ahead. You are teaching ego, telling them that one who has come first is superior, and one who is behind is inferior. In books you tell them to be humble and loving, whereas your whole arrangement teaches them to hate, to envy and come first. One who comes first is being awarded gold medals and merit certificates; he is being garlanded and photographed, and others, who are behind, are insulted by the system.
When you are insulting the one who is behind, are you not goading his ego to push him to the forefront? When the one who has come first is being honored, are you not boosting his ego? So when the children are thus trained in ego, jealousy and competition, how can they love? Love is that which allows the loved ones to go ahead. Love always means to remain always last.
I will tell you a small anecdote to make this clearer. There were three Sufi saints who were to be hanged until dead. The so-called religious people are always against real saints. While they were waiting to be hanged, they were sitting in a row. The hangman called out the name, one after the other to hang them.
The hangman cried out the name, “Nuri,” that he should come forward.
But the person whose name was Nuri did not get up, instead another person got up and said, “You hang me first.”
The hangman said, “Your name is not Nuri. Why are you in a hurry to die?”
The one who had come forward replied, “I have loved Nuri and I have understood that when it is a question of dying, to come forward, and when it is a question of living, to remain behind. I would like to die before my friend dies. If it is a question of living, my friend should live longer than me.”
Love speaks like this. What does competition say? Competition tells you to stay behind while dying, and go on ahead when it is a question of living. Can the world be a better place to live in when the poison of competition and ambition is being poured into the minds of children? When a child is keen to go ahead of others and others are wanting to leave him behind, then, after being educated for twenty years, what will he do in life? He will do what he has been taught.