CHENNAI: What is education actually doing? Is it really helping mankind, our children, to become more concerned, more gentle, generous, not to go back to the old pattern — to the ugliness and naughtiness of this world? If the educator is really concerned, as he must be, then he has to help the student to find out his relationship to the world, not to the world of imagination or romantic sentimentality, but to the actual world in which all things are taking place; and also to the world of nature, to the desert, the jungle or the few trees that surround him, and to the animals of the world.
(Animals, fortunately, are not nationalistic; they hunt only to survive.) If the educator and the student lose their relationship to nature, each will certainly lose his relationship with humanity.What is nature? There is a great deal of talk about and endeavour to protect nature, the animals, the birds, the whales and dolphins, to clean the polluted rivers, the lakes, the green fields and so on. Nature is not put together by thought, as religion is, as belief is.
Nature is the tiger — that extraordinary animal with energy and great sense of power. Nature is the solitary tree in the field, the meadows and the grove; it is that squirrel shyly hiding behind a bough. Nature is the ant and the bee and all the living things of the earth. Nature is the river, not a particular river, whether the Ganges, the Thames or the Mississippi. Nature is all those mountains, snow-clad, with dark blue valleys and ranges of hills meeting the seas. The universe is part of this world.
One must have a feeling for all this, not destroy it, not kill for one’s pleasure, not kill animals for food. We do kill the vegetables that we eat, but one must draw the line somewhere. If you do not eat vegetables, then how will you live? So one must intelligently discern. Nature is part of our life. We grew out of the seed, the earth, and we are part of all that, but we are rapidly losing the sense that we are animals like the others. Can you have a feeling for a tree? Look at it, see the beauty of it, listen to the sound it makes; be sensitive to the little plant, to the little weed, to the creeper that is growing up the wall, to the light on the leaves and the many shadows.
You must be aware of all this and have that sense of communion with nature around you. You may live in a town, but you do have trees here and there. The next-door garden may be ill-kept, crowded with weeds, but look at the flower in it, and feel that you are part of all that, part of all living things.