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May 26, 1997 07:18 AM
by M K Ramadoss

Here is another letter Krishnaji wrote to the students of his schools.


Cruelty is an infectious disease and one must strictly guard oneself against
it. Some students seem to have this peculiar infection and they somehow
gradually dominate the others. Probably they feel it is very manly, for
their elders are often cruel in their words, in their attitudes, in their
gestures, in their pride. This cruelty exists in the world. The
responsibility of the student - and please remember with what significance
we are using that word - is to avoid any form of cruelty. Once many years
ago I was invited to talk at a school in California and as I entered the
school a boy of ten or so was passing me with a large bird, caught in a
trap, whose legs were broken. I stopped and looked at the boy without saying
a word. His face expressed fear and when I finished the talk and came out
the boy - a stranger - came up to me with tears in his eyes and said, 'Sir,
it will never happen again.' He was afraid that I would tell the headmaster
and there would be a scene about it and as I didn't say a word to either the
boy or the headmaster about the cruel incident, his awareness of the
terrible thing he had done made him realise the enormity of the act. It is
important to be aware of one's own activities and if there is affection then
cruelty has no place in our life at any time. In western countries you see
birds carefully nurtured and later in the season shot for sport and then
eaten. The cruelty of hunting, killing small animals, has become part of our
civilisation, like war, like torture, and the acts of terrorists and
kidnappers. In our intimate personal relationships there is also a great
deal of cruelty, anger, hurting each other. The world has become a dangerous
place in which to live and in our schools any form of coercion, threat,
anger must be totally and completely avoided for all these harden the heart
and mind, and affection cannot coexist with cruelty.

You understand, as a student, how important it is to realise that any form
of cruelty not only hardens your heart but perverts your thinking, distorts
your actions. The mind, like the heart, is a delicate instrument, sensitive
and very capable, and when cruelty and oppression touch it then there is a
hardening of the self Affection, love, has no centre as the self.

Now having read this and having understood so far what is said, what will
you do about it? You have studied what has been said, you are learning the
content of these words; what then is your action? Your response is not
merely to study and learn but also to act. Most of us know and are aware of
all the implications of cruelty and of what it actually does both outwardly
and inwardly, and leave it at that without doing anything about it -
thinking one thing and doing just the opposite. This not only breeds a great
deal of conflict but also hypocrisy. Most students do not like to be
hypocrites; they like to look at facts but they do not always act. So the
responsibility of the student is to see the facts about cruelty and without
any persuasion or cajoling understand what is implied and do something about
it. The doing is perhaps a greater responsibility. People generally live
with ideas and beliefs totally unrelated to their daily life and so this
naturally becomes hypocrisy. So don't be a hypocrite - which doesn't mean
you must be rude, aggressive or overly critical. When there is affection
there is inevitably courtesy without hypocrisy.

What is the responsibility of the teacher who has studied, learned, and acts
toward the student? Cruelty has many forms. A look, a gesture, a sharp
remark, and above all comparison. Our whole educational system is based on
comparison. A is better than B and so B must conform to or imitate A. This
in essence is cruelty, and ultimately its expression is examinations; so
what is the responsibility of the educator who sees the truth of this? How
will he teach any subject without reward and punishment, knowing that there
must be some kind of report indicating the capacity of the student? Can the
teacher do this? Is it compatible with affection? If the central reality of
affection is there, has comparison any place at all? Can the teacher
eliminate in himself the pain of comparison? Our whole civilisation is based
on hierarchical comparison both outwardly and inwardly which denies the
sense of deep affection. Can we eliminate from our minds the better, the
more, the stupid, the clever, this whole comparative thinking? If the
teacher has understood the pain of comparison what is his responsibility in
his teaching and in his action? A person who has really grasped the
significance of the pain of comparison is acting from intelligence.

1st February, 1980

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