Osho on Education
AT THE GATES OF UNIVERSITIES IN INDIA, IT IS WRITTEN, “EDUCATION IS THAT WHICH LIBERATES.” TODAY IN INDIA EVERYONE AGREES THAT THE EDUCATION SYSTEM IS A MESS, BUT NO ONE TRIES TO CHANGE IT. WHAT ARE THE DEFECTS OF THE EDUCATION SYSTEM IN INDIA? WHAT KIND OF EDUCATION CAN BE HELPFUL FOR THE INNER AND OUTER GROWTH OF THE INDIVIDUAL SO THAT THE NEW MAN AND THE NEW SOCIETY CAN BE BORN? WHAT SUBJECTS ARE NEEDED FOR THE RIGHT TYPE OF EDUCATION?
Education is certainly the process of liberation, but it has not been actualized anywhere in the world. Liberation means liberating the mind from the past, liberating the mind from theologies, liberating the mind from political ideologies; liberating the mind in such a way that when a student comes out of education he is just a clean pure seeker with no prejudice.
That beautiful sentence at the gates of the universities in India simply shows how man can be unaware and a hypocrite. In India, there are Mohammedan universities, Hindu universities. The first step should be that there should be no Mohammedan university. How can it liberate people? — it is going to program people into Mohammedanism. There should be no Hindu university. This is simply ugly. Now Jainas have been trying to create a new university, a Jaina university. In the West there are Catholic universities.
Liberation becomes impossible by the very fact that the university itself has a certain prejudice, a certain program to put into the minds of the students. So my suggestion is: first dissolve Hindu, Mohammedan, Jaina, Catholic — these names, from the universities. Secondly: India is a poor country yet it has more than one hundred universities, which is simply futile, meaningless. At the most, each state in India can have one university. Right now each state has almost five, six, seven universities. There are thirty states and there is a competition to have more and more universities. The ultimate result is that the standard of their education goes on falling.
Consolidate universities so that each state has one university, all other universities become colleges affiliated to that university. There is no need for so many universities. It is a wastage of money; and when you have so many universities you cannot get the best geniuses as professors. To do that, India has many services, for example, the Indian Administrative Service — IAS. It should have an Indian Educational Service — IES.
Just because somebody has a university degree does not mean that he becomes automatically capable of teaching. Teaching is a totally different art. Passing an examination is one thing; teaching is totally different. It needs articulateness, it needs a vast range of knowledge — not only the textbooks that you have read in the university — it needs you to be constantly in touch with the growing knowledge.
In India, this has been my experience. Thirty years ago somebody passed his master’s degree or became a Ph.D, became a professor; and for thirty years he has not bothered about what has happened in his subject. In thirty years human knowledge has increased more than has been possible in the past even three thousand years. In thirty years we have discovered, known more, than in three thousand years.Now a professor who is unaware of these thirty years of development is absolutely incapable. He should not be a professor in the university because he will be teaching his students something which is already out of date, already proved wrong. Something else has taken its place…
The Indian universities are suffering from lack of up-to-dateness. So create a central system, IES, which chooses the professors not just because they have a Ph.D. or a first-class master’s degree; their degrees don’t mean anything. IES will examine them again to know whether they are up to date or not. Consolidate the universities, so there are not one hundred of them.
The very meaning of university in India has been lost. It has become a political thing; every state wants more universities than the other state. What is the reason? The reason is that politicians are becoming vice-chancellors. Retired politicians, politicians who have been defeated in the elections, who are no longer chief ministers, cabinet ministers — they need some place of respect. The vice-chancellorship has become a refuge.
So make it an absolute law that no politician can become a vice-chancellor, because what does a politician know about vice-chancellorship? What does he know about education? He will pollute the whole university with politics — that is his profession. His whole life he has been in a wrong place, absolutely against the world of education, and suddenly he becomes the vice-chancellor.
And of course because vice-chancellors are chosen, elected by the professors of the universities; those professors can be pressurized. Their promotions… somebody is going to become dean, somebody is going to become the reader, somebody is going to become the professor — their own ambitions can be used…
The universities should be teaching, as far as possible, the latest discoveries, the latest literature, the latest poetry, the latest in everything. What they are doing is thirty years, forty years old. It takes time for people to become well known, but the universities should be sensitive enough: each year there are new novels, new music, new dances, that should become part of the curriculum. Universities have to remain always up to date, not lagging behind the world. My feeling is they are lagging behind in everything, and the reason is that the professors were taught thirty years before — and whatever they have been taught is what they are teaching. That’s why India is unable to produce great scientists, great mathematicians, great philosophers. Greatness has disappeared from that country. Where the greatest geniuses have been born, suddenly there are no great people. The reason is the whole education system is lagging behind, far behind. So only one university in one state, and choose the best. And there should be a special examination for the professors — just the ordinary educational degree is not enough, because they are going to do something for which they are not prepared.
I have seen professors lecturing — nervous, perspiring; they have never spoken in their life. They may have been good at the examinations but that is a totally different matter. They are so afraid facing a class… and if there is somebody who knows more than them, then they are so embarrassed. I have seen them, in the cold season, perspiring because I had raised a question and they didn’t know the answer. And they didn’t even have the guts to say, “I don’t know the answer.” They pretend that they know everything. So there should be a special examination for a professor — that means, whether he is articulate, whether he can speak well, whether he can express himself adequately.
And secondly, the Indian Educational Service should have every year at least a one-month refresher course for every professor of the country, so that they are made up-to-date. Knowledge is exploding so fast and to remain up to date is an absolute necessity, at least for the professors; otherwise the whole country will remain backward. Refresher courses are needed. Or, if it is felt necessary, then before entering the examination of the educational services there should be a certain training of three months, six months, where they are taught how to teach.
This is strange: school teachers need training for teaching; they have to have a Bachelor’s degree in teaching. Strange: primary school teachers have training — and university professors have no training. They are untrained people — and almost always the wrong people, because the people who top the universities are not articulate people. They are involved so much in reading their textbooks, preparing for the examination, that they don’t have any time. Speaking is an art, and a professor should be an artist. His words should not be simply words; they should carry some poetry in them, some music in them.
As far as subjects for teaching are concerned, in India there is a problem: there are thirty national languages, and every state wants its language to be used as a medium of expression. This is impossible. The whole country would become divided into thirty segments which have no way of communicating with each other. So a very clear-cut decision is needed. The people are not willing to accept any Indian language as the national language. Hindi is spoken by half of India; still they are not ready, the other half is not ready to accept it as a national language.
And I can understand their difficulty. If Hindi becomes the national language, then all other languages — Bengalese, Assamese, Gujarati, Marathi, Malayanam, Telegu — they will all be losers, because in every national competition the person whose mother tongue is Hindi is bound to be superior.
The only way is that English, which is foreign to everybody, should be the national language. So each state should have two languages from the very lowest school to the college, to the university: English as the national language and the local state language as the state language.
But a certain language is needed which makes communication possible. English is spoken and understood by only two percent of the people and Hindi by fifty percent of the people, but the percentage is not the question. The point is, English is acceptable to everybody because nobody is going to be benefited, it is nobody’s mother tongue; everybody has to work hard to learn it.
And in another way also it is good to make English the national language, because it automatically has become the international language. Any country knowing English perfectly well becomes contemporary, a part of the whole world, although English is still not the language spoken by the largest number of people. That credit goes to the Chinese. But who is going to use Chinese as an international language? It needs at least thirty years to learn Chinese. If it is not your mother tongue, it is the most difficult language, because it has no alphabet. It is a non-alphabetical language; it has only pictures, symbols. Now, for one million things you have one million pictures….
The alphabet has made language very simple; just twenty-six letters can manage everything. But to have some understanding of Chinese, you have to know at least one hundred thousand words, their figures, symbols. It is really difficult to remember unless you are born Chinese and from the very beginning you have imbibed the language. But Chinese is spoken by the largest number of people, for the simple reason that they are the largest number of people…English is the language of the intelligentsia, of science, of all the developments that are happening; so numbers don’t count. One language is certainly needed by the whole world, and I don’t think there is any other competitor to English. So it will be good for India in both ways: Indians are ready to accept English so it becomes the national language, and automatically India becomes part of the international communication system.
All these universities should be under the federal government, the central government, so their standard remains the same. They should not be under the local politicians of each state. It should be a completely separate section, just like justice is. Your courts have a separate world, uninfluenced by your political system. Education should also be a separate world. It is far more important that it should not be pressurized by politicians: your future is being developed in the universities. So reduce the number of universities and make a separate section of administration for education. Keep it up-to-date.
And one of my suggestions is that
each professor and each student should learn a simple meditation method. He can choose one. There are one hundred and twelve meditation methods; the simplest is vipassana. Through vipassana Gautam Buddha became enlightened. It is the most simple, without any complication. Make vipassana absolutely compulsory — and unless a person passes in vipassana he cannot get his degree. Then it will be real education. Then it will be a liberating factor, because vipassana will liberate you totally from your religions, from your races, from your countries. It will make you an individual. You will not be anymore a member of a mob. You will have your own integrity, your own centeredness, your own roots. And if vipassana is made absolutely compulsory for professors too… before they become professor, they should pass through a vipassana training. And every university should have a meditation place. It will beautify the university to have a beautiful Zen garden, ponds, rocks, ancient moss on the rocks, a silent, peaceful atmosphere, small cottages for people to meditate in….Meditation is an absolute necessity for humanity to survive. All other subjects should be taught, but no other subject is so important as meditation. But no university is teaching it. If all the graduates from the university come out with a meditative mind, they will change the whole structure and fabric of the society.
These are my simple suggestions, absolutely practical; there is nothing utopian about them. The prime minister of India, Rajiv Gandhi, has just to understand it. He has an intelligent mind, and a certain respect for me.
This is an excerpt from the transcript of a public discourse by Osho in Rajneeshmandir.
Discourse Series: From Death to Deathlessness
Chapter title: The power of nothingness
8 September 1985 am in Rajneeshmandir
Osho has spoken on ‘teacher, education, schools, culture, profession’ in many of His discourses. More on the subject can be referred to in the following books/discourses:
- The Great Pilgrimage: From Here to Here
- The Messiah, Vol 2
- Satyam Shivam Sundram
- Take It Easy, Vol 2
- Vedanta: Seven Steps to Samadhi
- Bodhidharma: The Greatest Zen Master
- The Secret
- The Guest
- Light on the Path
- Philosophia Perennis, Vol 2