Ryan Baidya, Ph.D
Strategist, Entrepreneur and Mentor, California
Anjali Kanojia, Ph.D
Aizen Institute, Houston, Texas, USA
Light is the Universal symbol of knowledge and understanding. Ancient literature often describes teachers as those whose role is to open minds to the vastness of myths and remove confusions that arise from myopia-ism, thus bringing clarity and light to difficult situations. The process of discrimination and enlightenment is also discussed in terms of removal of cobwebs of doubts and ushering in light in order to bring lucidity to the situation. The state of enlightenment too is often described as the state of full clarity and knowing, clear of all doubts.
In many ways, light represents something that enriches us as human beings. Whatever our spiritual beliefs might be, what connects us as humans is our desire for knowledge. Knowledge is able to ignite and share the light in the hearts of people around us. This act of sharing brings happiness to many. Formal and informal teaching have been methods of bringing light to the people – young and old.
“Light” and “soul” are used here though these English terms do not come close to describing the amazing phenomena being discussed. Soul attempts to describe the life energies which reside in each living being. This is the One-ness, the interconnectedness and the concept of the indestructible and ever-present Truth and Reality. This concept
is often described as the Atman or the soul or the God-factor which is present in each being. The purpose of the essay about building soul is to further highlight ways in which each learner- via the guidance of teachers and self-inquiry can build him/herself up to be individuals who are aware of themselves as well as others in society. Individuals with a cultivated, mature soul will work towards the betterment of others and exist in harmony in society at large.
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The idea of going from darkness to Light is figurative as well. Enlightenment or seeing the light does not describe a physical phenomenon of visually seeing bright lights at the end of dark road. However, it attempts to describe the clearing of all doubts and untruths. Here, only the Truth shines, in a metaphorical sense.
Share your knowledge, go from darkness to Light
In a formal teaching environment, various content and subjects are exchanged between teachers and the learners. A student’s learning is assessed only through the contents -its retention, its depth and width. However, none of these give any measure to the amount of luminance of light that a learner has acquired and passed on during his/her learning processes using content as vehicles. Thus the acquired luminance of light acts as the learner’s North Star of life – a guiding path. With this, the learner achieves success, builds family, contributes to society and becomes part of the bonafide citizenry of any nation.
Institutions that are motivated to teach and walk their learners toward the light may draft their Institutional Core Competency statements as a promise to the communities that support the institution. A promise that the learners, upon completing a program at the institution, will be able to demonstrate the knowledge, skills, and attitudes contained within all of the five competency areas as follows.
∗ Communication and Expression
Learners will communicate clearly, express themselves creatively, interpret thoughtfully and logically, and engage actively in dialogue and discussion while paying attention to the audience, situation and (inter) cultural context. Communication and expression may be written or oral, verbal or nonverbal, informational or artistic.
∗ Information Literacy
Learners will recognize when information is needed and locate, critically evaluate, synthesize and communicate information in various formats. They will use appropriate resources and technologies while understanding the social, legal and ethical issues for information and its use.
∗ Physical/Mental Wellness & Personal Responsibility
Learners will recognize lifestyles that promote physical and mental well-being, engage in self-reflection and ethical decision-making. They will begin exploring career choices and life goals, practice effective individual and collaborative work habits, and demonstrate a commitment to ongoing learning.
∗ Global, Cultural, Social & Environmental Awareness
Learners will recognize their role as local, national and global citizens. They will participate in a democratic process, respect social and cultural diversity, appreciate the complexity of the physical world, and understand the significance of both environmental sustainability and social justice.
∗ Critical Thinking
Learners will analyze arguments, create and test models, solve problems, evaluate ideas, estimate and predict outcomes based on underlying principles relative to a particular discipline. They will interpret literary, artistic, and scientific works, utilize symbols and symbolic systems, apply qualitative and quantitative analysis, and verify the reasonableness of conclusions. Learners will explore alternatives, empathize with differing perspectives, and adapt ideas and methods to new situations as they arise.
One has to wait several years to evaluate said outcomes. Sometimes this means waiting many years after the learners have graduated. This process entails waiting and hoping to evaluate empathy, love, and affection in a quantitative manner. These attributes and traits can only be felt and recognized at a future time under certain specific circumstances. The results are not instant and the evaluation requires thought and patience.
Learners will be expected to demonstrate their knowledge, skills, and attitudes. They are expected to communicate, be honest, and demonstrate ethical and socially responsibility. These are small and simple expectations that an institution could have from the learners. In regards to this, an institution will use its primary subject curriculum and assist learners to understand, augment and mould said skills. This would be the approach of developing the core competencies of the institution in the above-mentioned areas.
Fundamentals of education are transferring wisdom that makes an individual wholesomely human first, then impart tools and trades of knowledge and information for that individual to sustain his/her well-being in society. Many contemporary educational institutions, programs, and processes, wittingly and/or unwittingly have deviated from that cardinal objective of education. As a result, we have many highly skilled and talented individuals in our society, but very few have acquired the Light to be bonafide members of society. A cumulative effect of such soul-less education continues to affect our society with corruption, and inhumane policy-making.
Wholesome Learning Environment
No single course or an ensemble of courses can be assigned in building an individual into a wholesome human being. The entire institution as well as the culture that the institution sets forth is key to achieving the educational objective of building a soul. Failure to achieve this goal is the fundamental failure of the institution and the programs that the institution offers.
The wholesomeness only develops in an individual by them being in an environment and around people who recognize, respect and value these qualities – a culture and philosophy of the organization. An institution should aspire to have that culture and environment in both a top-down and bottom-up feedback loop.
Teaching methodology should encourage young talent to take challenges to tackle social issues, fulfill their goals and dreams through professional growth and entrepreneurship. Learners will receive content information; teachers will facilitate and act like catalysts in converting that information to knowledge for learners to use during their academic career as well as further in life. Finally, the knowledge will churn into wisdom –the Light of the learning. This churning process is only possible if and when the institution and the society create appropriate competencies, as discussed above, including the correct environment.
What We think about Learning
- We think that learners learn best when they teach each other.
- We think that learners learn best in small groups or teams.
- We think that learners learn best when they respect one another.
- We think that learners learn best when they are expected to do well.
- We think that learners learn best from teachers who are learners.
- We think that learners learn best when they are challenged to think, feel, and do.
- We think that learners learn best when they enjoy learning.
- We think that learners learn best when they can relate learning to their lives
Actions we should take
- To help learners learn about themselves, others and tackle great questions and responses of ancient philosophical traditions.
- To inspire learners to think deeply, live well, and cultivate better understanding.
- To foster hunger so that learners want to learn more than we can possibly teach.
- To create an environment in which we all learn together.
- To leave learners feeling like they have succeeded.
- To expect the best in learners and ourselves.
- To help learners apply what they have learned in their lives.
- Learners, teachers, and administrators should learn to construct, and then ask themselves questions for self-assessment. These questions are the essence of learning for the soul and acquiring the luminance of the light. Learners should begin to ask these questions while they are in any learning environment. Below is an ensemble of questions that a learner may use as a start point; and may take with them to use as a navigator of their life-journey hereafter. These questions are omnipotent and are applicable in any circumstances at any time of life.
Know what you know.
Know what you don’t know.
Know what you don’t know that you know.
Know what you don’t know that you don’t know.
Know who you are.
Know what you are.
Know where you are.
Know where you have been.
Know where you are going.
Know where you want to be.
Know where you want to go.
Know your value today.
Know your value one year later.
Know your value five years later.
Know your value ten years later.
Know what you love.
Know who you love.
Know who loves you.
Here and Now
Know your favorite drink.
Know your favorite snack.
Know your favorite meal.
Connecting the dots
Know your roots.
Know your roots’ roots.
Know what your roots’ mission was.
Know how to express gratitude.
Know when to express gratitude.
Know how to accept gratitude.
Ignorance and wisdom – side by side
To know all is to know nothing; to know nothing is to know it all
To create a void is to create a thunderstorm; to create a thunderstorm is to create a void.
Charaiveti Charaiveti – चरैवेति चरैवेति
Keep going, keep going this is the mantra. Never stopping and never tiring; steadfastly keep moving forward.
Quench your thirst. Begin your quest.
These concepts and questions help learners formulate their lives and understand the cardinal rules that will guide them for years to come to help them be responsible citizens of this world. We have seen, unfortunately, many individuals even with the highest accolade fail to perform as a bonafide citizen of our highly delicate societal frameworks. These individuals without the necessary preparation to be a part of this complex society are inevitably prone to bring chaos and instability to society. Sometimes they even harm our global system to an extent that takes decades to repair.
So the goal of Education is not just to teach, but to build souls. When the learners are given accolades, they inherently should vow to adhere to the rule of living as stated below. For the learners who have acquired and/or learned to acquire the luminescence of Light, to them these rules are as simple as second nature in daily life. However, those learners who are deprived of true learning –the soul building education – would find these rules of living more challenging to adhere to.
Rules of Living
Rule 1: Incorrect thinking is the only problem in life.
Rule 2: Right knowledge is the ultimate solution to all our problems.
Rule 3: Selflessness is the only way to progress and attain prosperity.
Rule 4: Every act can be an act of hope.
Rule 5: Renounce the ego of individuality and rejoice in the Bliss of Infinity.
Rule 6: Connect to your Higher Consciousness Daily.
Rule 7: Live what you learn.
Rule 8: Never give up on yourself.
Rule 9: Value your blessings.
Rule 10: See divinity in the creation all around you.
Rule 11: Have enough of an open mind to see the Truth as it is.
Rule 12: Absorb your mind in bigger than life goals.
Rule 13: Detach from mediocrity and attach to excellence.
Rule 14: Live a lifestyle that matches your vision.
Rule 15: Give priority to the truth.
Rule 16: Being good is a reward in itself.
Rule 17: Choosing the right over the pleasant is a sign of power.
Rule 18: Let Go, lets you move to Peace and Happiness.
Let us help lead learners them from darkness to Light.
Artworks by Pranab Phauzdar (www.phauzdar.com), and Aizen S. Baidya (Silicon Valley, California)