Read more from the Being Truly Human April 2017 Newsletter
An article by Phiroz Mehta reprinted from the June 1957 issue of Latin Teaching
Continued from part 1, part 2 and part 3
As long as I am a producer and maintainer of evil, the world is evil; and as long as my fellow man is a producer and a maintainer of evil, the world is evil. How easy it is for me, comfortably making believe that I am good, right and one of the elect, to point the finger of blame at my fellow man, to declare my disassociation from him, and even to try to coerce him. There is no evil in the world apart from the evil which my fellow man or I introduce into life through incapacity and ignorance, through our own state of being unawake to the Supreme Good. It is both wrong and ineffective for me to try to compel my fellow man to abstain from evil, or to convince him that my view of the good is the real good. My fellow man is a free individual, and it is not for me to obtrude with cruel discourtesy upon his freedom. And yet, free individuals that we are, my fellow man and I are linked in indissoluble bonds of the flesh and the mind and the spirit. I need him for my nurturing and he needs my strength for his work; I learn the ways of straight thinking from him and he accepts my loving respect for his comfort; and he and I stand united in that communion of spirit where there is neither a separate him nor a different me, but only a two-in-one embraced within the everlasting arms. Thus he and I are unique partners in this dance of life. And by the time he and I make perfect beauty together, our vision of the Good will have become pure and true, and evil may linger only as a vague remembrance of some fretful dream of long ago.
Since my fellow man and I are so inter-related, he and I inevitably and continuously influence each other by the very fact of our existence. So it is my personal responsibility to effect my own purification. This is my only legitimate exercise of an influence for good upon him. My own purification means virtue, active virtue. This is soul strength, and this is happiness. Plato and the Buddha, the Orphics and the Rishis join us here with smiling accord. This active virtue of heart, head and hand is the foundation stone of a truly human society. The well being of this society emerges out of the co-operative activity of self-responsible individuals, free in their souls. Fearless and strong in their freedom, they will not cling for security to any transient forms. Established on the foundation of the eternal, they will be the creators of philosophy and science, of art and religion, of human order and progress which will inspire others to realize the Supreme Good.
Education is inspiration. Yajnavalkya and Jesus, Krishna and the Buddha were perfect teachers because they themselves were perfected ones. I can inspire my pupil — and he has to be a willing pupil — only by means of what I myself have mastered, only to the extent that I myself am, or have realized, that which I present in verbal or any other suitable form. If I myself am a free, integrated and harmonious individual, I can inspire my pupil without imposing on his freedom, without distorting the unique pattern of his own individuality. Thus my pupil will truly learn, and not merely acquire learning.
The living soul of a people is enshrined in its literature. All peoples are different versions of any one people; all persons are myself in varying forms. Innumerable men; one mankind. Different tales and epics, but only one human story. Only one divine plan unfolding through the unique histories of several peoples. Only one eternal beauty wearing the separate veils of diverse arts.
If an educator can point a finger of light to this inner reality, he will have fulfilled his duty to his pupil. For he will have inspired him to grow towards excellence, arete, without seeking eminence for himself. Whoso contributes his whole excellence to the good of the people is a true democrat. If he has understood the essence of both Indian and Greek literature, he does not strive to perpetuate institutions. For all institutions become tombs in due time. The green fields of life must not be disfigured by debris. Our priceless inheritance from the past is not something petrified. The past bequeaths to us an understanding of life and of our own human selves. The soul of our legacy is a thought, an ideal, a value. How tenuous! And how tenacious! We are all moved by an inward Necessity towards a fulfilment not all can see. The great authors lift the veil, a corner here, a corner there. The great teachers show us a way, or a part of the way, to our fulfilment, and the few, the greatest amongst those teachers, flung open the portals of immortality and proved their by own achievement that our journey through time into eternity, from mortal to god, is indeed the fulfilment of our divine destiny. In the light of the vision of that fulfilment we may well and simply say, “Yes, we do understand,” when Prajapati thunders “Da!”
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