We don’t allow children to remain intelligent. The first thing is that if they are intelligent they will be vulnerable, they will be delicate, they will be open. If they are intelligent they will be able to see many falsities in the society, in the state, in the church, in the educational system. They will become rebellious. They will be individuals; they will not be cowed easily. You can crush them, but you cannot enslave them You can destroy them, but you cannot force them to compromise.
In one sense intelligence is very soft, like a roseflower, in another sense it has its own strength. But that strength is subtle, not gross. That strength is the strength of rebellion, of a non-compromising attitude. One is ready to die, one is ready to suffer, but one is not ready to sell one’s soul.
And the whole society needs slaves; it needs people who function like robots, machines. It does not want people, it wants ancient mechanisms. Hence the whole conditioning is: make the ego strong. It serves a double purpose. First: it gives the person the feeling that now he can struggle in life. And secondly: it serves the purposes of all the vested interests. They can exploit him; they can use him as a means to their own ends.
Hence the whole educational system rotates around the idea of ambition; it creates ambitiousness. Ambitiousness is nothing but ego. “Become the first, become the most famous. Become a prime minister or a president. Become world known Leave your name in history.” It does not teach you to live totally, it does not teach you to love totally, it does not teach you to live gracefully, it teaches you how to exploit others for your own purposes. And we think that the people who are clever are the ones who succeed. They are cunning, but we call them clever. They are not intelligent people.
An intelligent person can never use another person as a means; he will respect the other. An intelligent person will be able to see the equality of all. Yes, he will see the differences too, but differences make no difference as far as equality is concerned. He will have tremendous respect for others’ freedom – he cannot exploit them, he cannot reduce them into things, he cannot make them stepping-stones to the fulfillment of some absurd desire to be the first. Hence we go on conditioning children, and the question arises…
Your question is relevant, , because it is not only I who am saying that children are intelligent, it has been said by Buddha, by Lao Tzu, by Jesus, by all the awakened ones. Jesus says: Unless you are like a small child there is no hope for you. Again he says: Unless you become like small children you cannot enter into my kingdom of God. Again and again he repeats one of his most famous beatitudes: Blessed are those who are the last in this world, because they will be the first in my kingdom of God. He is teaching non-ambitiousness – to be the last. He says: Blessed are the meek, for theirs is the kingdom of God – the meek, the humble, the people who are standing last in the queue. It was natural, very natural that the society he was born in was against him because he was destroying the very roots of their ambitiousness.