Mahatma Gandhi Community Forum

Gandhi and John Lennon: A Call to Quit School - Part 2

by P.Kamala Willey, Ph.D.  Amritapuri, 2010

Truth and Education

The call to know Truth, what was really Truth, rose up in me again, and my quest began in earnest, to be massively sidetracked several more times by the powerful
distracting and conditioning influences around me, until I reached
the home and arms of the Great Light on Earth called Mata
Amritanandamayi Devi, or Holy Mother Amma, Amma, our Universal
Mother. And even here, it is a constant battle to keep the inner
forces focussed on trying to discern the Real from the unreal, to
move into `experiencing' rather than `anticipating'. The powerful
energies of India's ancient ideals infuse the atmosphere of Her

In Gandhi's time, he saw the deadening effects of `modern education' in India, which was done on the British model. Of his own experience of the self-alienating ways of this
model he said:

“From my sixth or seventh year up to my sixteenth, I was at school, being taught all sorts of things except religion. I may say that I failed to get from the teachers
what they could have given me without any effort on their part. And
yet, I kept on picking up things here and there from my surroundings.
The term 'religion' I am using in its broadest sense, meaning
thereby self-realization or knowledge of self.”i

It was `upper class' education that Gandhi received, to create people who would be of service to the exploitive goals of the planet's first mega-multinational company. He
was initially a pawn of its goals, traveling to England to become a
lawyer, in the service to Laws that supported British rule. As he
developed philosophically, Gandhi saw the industrial age coming, and
its dangerous and dehumanizing effects for human society. We live
with it now, women no longer allowed to be honored as Mothers,
forced into innumerable insecurities, young girls taught that their
`sexual power' is a valuable strength. It continues en masse
today, called `modern education' and the planet is filled with
millions of people whose education is designed to enable them to fit
into the goals of big business, and worse, to want those goals,
turning their hearts and minds away from all that the infinitude of
Life offers us.

Paramahansa Yogananda, who saw the trends in the 1930's-50's in the US said:

Advancement in science and technology is to be applauded when used for the betterment of the human race, but in practical application, nations of the Earth could enhance the
happiness of their citizens if they advocated a consciousness of
plain living and high thinking – concentrating their minds more on
spiritual development, inspirational literature, philosophy,
knowledge of the wonders and working of Creation, and less on
frenetic technologies that encourage money-madness.

Gandhi and Real Education

Gandhi saw that `modern education' created appetites for material acquisitions, it didn't develop mindsets that thirsted for justice and service. He saw that
environment was a crucial factor in the formation of a child's mind
and education and stated:

“We hold that real education does not consist merely in acquainting oneself with ancient or modern books. It consists in the habits which one knowingly or unknowingly imbibes
from the atmosphere, one's surroundings and the company one keeps and
above all in work...the primary function of a teacher, is, therefore,
not to teach the alphabet, but to inculcate humanity.iii

He began something called `basic education' which stressed hand/heart/mind as a way of educating oneself. With `the wolf at the door' he advocated learning hand
craft skills as early as possible that would enable one to keep body
and soul together. Many have misunderstood Gandhi's educational
ideals, feeling they advocated rustication, and would keep people out
of the `modern world.' But Gandhi saw that through basic education,
human beings would come into contact with dimensions within
themselves that current forms of education entirely ignore, while
enjoying a semblance of modernity. Discussing the ethical benefits
gained from the practice and art of spinning at young ages, Gandhi

“It develops in the spinner patience, persistence, concentration, self-control, calmness, realization of importance and value of detail, ability to do more than one thing at
a time, making each one of them so habitual that its control and
operation are almost unconscious, sensitiveness, sureness and
delicacy of touch and of muscular control and coordination...a
realization of the value of co-operative work, self-respect and
self-reliance arising from recognition of one's ability to create
something of economic value useful to oneself, one's family, to the
school and to the village, province or nation...”iv

Do our children gain any qualities like this from the endless and meaningless paper art activities given to them in modern education? And much of the 'busy time' activities
they are required to do, not to speak of the curriculum? Do they
gain qualities that can help them cope with Life? When children are
not allowed to do genuinely meaningful works that can positively
impact their environment, that make them feel a part of a large
community, they respond with a lack of motivation. Its the passive
silent non-cooperation of youth, to demands that they comply with
meaningless activities. `Lack of interest' is a screaming response, a
dire warning to teachers, if only they could hear it. It's all our
youth can do when faced with powerful adult minds and rules that have
the power and authority to keep them locked up in a school, all

Gandhi urges Everyone to Quit School

Gandhi saw that people's fascination with the self-serving ideals held out to them by the British Raj, had to be broken. Beginning in the early 1920's he began a Quit School
movement. People had to awake from the dream of becoming happy
British Indians, they had to see the actual situation they were in,
what the duty that life itself was calling them to. In his
day, the Press was not suppressed as it is now. Gandhi was good
copy. Furthermore, he started his own Press, to get his ideas out
into the public mind. The stupor of 300 years of British domination
was strong. He fought the colonialization of their psyche with

“How do children fare in a besieged place? Do they not according to their capacity take part in repelling the attack of the besiegers and suit themselves to the
changing circumstances?...True education must correspond to the
surrounding circumstances or it is not a healthy growth.”v

What is the reality of our planetary circumstances now? Does modern education equip our children to face
the challenges that life will present them thanks to the last 100
years of unbridled greed?

Gandhi saw that:

“The greatest obstacle in the way of students is fear of consequences mostly imaginary. The first lesson therefore that students have to learn is to shed fear. Freedom can
never be won by those who are afraid of rustication, poverty and even

He had the faith that youth were not as badly blinded and conditioned as their elders by the goals of education under the British:

“From the students, however, I expect more. When they come out of the present schools and colleges, their teachers and professors are likely to follow them on their own. For
them, the immediate problem is one of livelihood; for the students,
it is a question merely of getting rid of a fascination.”vii

Along with questions, he taunted parents and teachers, challenging them to awaken to the reality of their situation:

“Shall we not free them from the curse of slavery which has made us crawl on our bellies?”viii

“...if primary school teachers have [any] national consciousness and moral strength...they should leave these schools in which the pupils are educated for slavery and should
work to educate the people even begging for their maintenance, as
teachers used to do in ancient times. I am certain...the public will
not fail to provide for them.”ix

What are our children being `educated' for now? It doesn't jive with the reality of the planetary situation. Its been over 10 generations of continuous ravage and rape
of Nature. We have massively polluted the natural Creation. What
and where are the remaining resources that are left for the present
and future billions of people who will come with empty, open hands
to receive their inheritance from us? Will they even have clean
water, clean rain?

Gandhi followed all his efforts up with a demand that we connect with our conscience and turn to our ethical instincts:

“Freedom merely means that, unafraid of anyone, we should be able to speak and act as we feel...the first lesson therefore, which you should learn is to be able to say `NO!'”x

Choke Tied by ‘Modern Ed’

At present, in militarized western societies, the legal, medical and educational systems have forged interdependent and punishing links for those who do not comply with
the systems that have been set up to assure business and profits. We
live in a state of fear regarding our future, our present, tonight
and tomorrow. Throughout the planet, education only fits us out to
be cogs in the corporate madness that has overtaken people's minds
and human society. Helena Norberg-Hodge points out:

“...what we call ``education" is part of an infrastructure which has been introduced everywhere, whether through the communist or capitalist mode, as one of the
cornerstones of development. The process of development is precisely
that of exploiting more resources and extending those exploitations
around the globe.

“Furthermore, the education that we're talking about is Western-style education – which is everywhere now. It teaches people little or nothing about the land
they actually live on, how to manage limited local resources, how to
relate to each other and be in community. Instead, it trains people
for an urban, industrial lifestyle. That lifestyle is extremely
resource- and energy-intensive and quite unsustainable.”xi

Helena Norberg Hodge, looked at the impact of modern education upon Ladhak, which had been virtually untouched by the economic gridlock until 1975:

“The practical result is that the educated children cannot survive in the village. The only place they can live is in the city, as an urbanised consumer. If they have more
education they have to go to Delhi, get more, and then they only
survive in America or England. Yet in Western terms, all this change
is \emph{Progress}. All this economic activity increases the GNP,
which in the traditional economy was virtually zero. The Western
system is simply incapable of classifying traditional subsistence
economies, and accounts them as worthless.”xii

So, we are in a situation, where our `education' so called, is not serving us very well at all. It doesn't help us to maximize our human potential, which is our ethical
potential. The greatest human beings are those who have chosen to
maximize their ethical potentials, to become the most humane.
The planet is in sad shape, thanks to industrialization, and our
educations do not prepare us to deal with it head-on, as we must.
The masses of us are not interested in becoming rocket scientists,
who sit around and devise ways to spend tax-payer monies and Earth's
resources to bomb the moon, as was done October 9, 2009.

We want peace, social security, that is, to be able to live in a society where we can trust our neighbors to be humane people towards us, our environment, our children. Where
the food we eat is safe, without side effects. Where the loved Earth
is clean, giving and joyous for our presence upon Her. We want to be
able to laugh, cry, share each other's burdens, and have a wide range
of loving associates, not only human. We want to use our intellects
to really help one another, to aspire to know Truth, to touch the
Real, through music, literature, arts, and genuinely useful
inventions. We want an education that teaches us how to maximize our
human potentials of kindness, caring and fearless justice-seeking.
That teaches us how to honour the subtle nuances of Love, that
teaches us how to live on and care for all that is here with us in
our now severely damaged planet.

We are weary of all of what `education' so called has brought us to.

What can we do?

Its time we started a new Quit School movement. Gandhi did it, it can be done. He never agreed to the title of Mahatma and said:

“I have often said that I do not claim to be an extraordinary man unless one who is mad after the search for Truth be called extraordinary. I am certainly mad in the
sense that every honest man should be. I have disclaimed the title
of a saint for I am fully conscious of my limitations and
imperfections. I claim to be a servant of India and therethrough of

World wide, we can unplug our children from the meaningless lock-up time in school. We can collectively turn off the innundation and sexualization of their
minds from the media, starting with the box with the blue-glow. We
can get together and give our children numeracy and literacy, and the
highest ethical standards: fair play, fearless honesty, reliability,
courtesy and self-less consideration for all, kindness and
truthfulness in thought, word, and deed. We can teach them to honour
and guard the purity of their bodies, minds and hearts. We can teach
our children to aspire for genuine nobility of character, that
bravely carries out duty as a joy, and accepts responsibility for
others as well as themselves with ease. We can create children who
have inner poise, and self-abidance, and tremendous self-confidence.
We don't need to worry if our children can or cannot cope with the
frenetic technologies of the day. We don't need to make them
insecure by trying to keep step with their peers. We can teach them
to stand and walk, alone. Once positive character traits are
instilled, their ethical instincts awoken, we can rest assured that
they will choose what they need, and use it correctly and well, for
the benefit of all.

In offering our children this hope for a genuinely beautiful life, we will heal ourselves of the great travesty that our own educations have conditioned us into, by virtue
of living in a society governed by the economic gridlock. We will
free our minds and hearts from the disease of consumer-itis. We will
find our way back into harmony with the Reality of Life.

P.K. Willey, 2010.


i Gandhi, M.K., Story of My Experiments with Truth :Ch. X.

ii Yogananda, P., (1942) The Second Coming of Christ: Discourse 56.

iii Gandhi, M.K., India of My Dreams : 42.

iv Facets of Mahatma Gandhi. 1:61

v CWMG 31:149

vi CWMG 37:47

vii CWMG 18: 341

viii CWMG 18:422

ix CWMG 18: 341

x CWMG 19:47

xii url

xiii Young India. April 19, 1925: 98

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Replies to This Discussion

Dear Aunty,
As A Catholic here in the USA, It seems to me that the Catholic Schools are becoming schools for the middle class and rich. What do you think of my proposal which follows?
A "preferential option for the poor" should be maintained in our Catholic
Schools. If we find that we cannot afford to keep our schools open to the
poor, the schools should be closed and the resources used for something else
which can be kept open to the poor. We cannot allow our Church to become a
church primarily for the middle-class and rich while throwing a bone to the
poor. The priority should be given to the poor even if we have to let the
middle-class and rich fend for themselves.
Practically speaking, the Catholic Schools must close and the resources
used for "Confraternity of Christian Doctrine" and other programs which can
be kept open to the poor. Remember, the Church managed without Catholic
Schools for centuries. We can get along without them today. The essential
factor is to cultivate enough Faith to act in the Gospel Tradition, namely,
THE POOR GET PRIORITY. The rich and middle-class are welcome too. But the
poor come first.
William you sound like a TRUE Christian. You know Gandhi was very close to becoming a Christian but he was greatly saddened by Christian practice.
I once visited a Christian School in India where wonderful work was done by the sisters however I was saddened when I was taken up to the second floor. The only way to get there was by a MARBLE staircase.
While I was in India I visited many Schools for the underprivileged the floors of which were DIRT but they taught the children LOVE and Character.
When I go to India I stay at a School for the underprivileged in Assam (Parijat Academy.. they have a website)
It was nice to read your article.


Mahatma Gandhi Awareness
Dear Sir,
Thank-you for your comment. For a few weeks in their childhood in the US, my children attended a Catholic school, St. Patricks. I wept bitterly when I had to remove them from the school, due to my lack of finances, so I well understand your concern for the poor. I felt that I had lost the one chance I had in the USA to ensure that they receive an ethical training and orientation in their education that would help them to become morally secure in a society that actively works against such orientation through the media, which has confused all human values. We cannot know inner peace and contentment without a morally sound character.
I feel that the education imparted to youth through Catholic Schools, or at least at St. Patricks, is invaluable whether or not the child is rich or poor. A rich person with an ethical outlook on life becomes an asset to society, rather than an exploiter. All children deserve an education which builds character first and foremost. I feel that the Catholic schools, at this time in the USA hold out the greatest hope for the restoration of human dharma or duty, to the general society. Instead of closing these schools, we should seek to open more of them, so that more people will have access to the caring character promoting education that they offer in a society that is geared to its demise.
I am not Catholic, but I deeply respect the genuine and universal human ethics, the Earth Ethics, the way of life the Catholic Church promotes. I feel the Catholic Church is providing a tremendously great service to the country through the preservation and imparting of essential human values, as being more important than materialism, selfishness, self-promotion and greed.
When it comes to ethics, I don't think we can leave anyone out. If all are educated to their true human duty to one another, there will be no poor.
It sounds like you have a passion to help, and a compassion for the poor. I pray you will get the opportunity in life to be of service to God in the way of your heart's desire.
Loving you,
Aunty Kamala


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