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Jain System of Moral Education: Why to learn?

Why to learn?

It may sound an audacious question. Why to learn means what? Since we have to live in this world we need to learn means of the living! It is so simple! The mean of living only can come after learning some skill that provides income which helps to buy the essentials to live and extra can be used for the luxuries of the life! The skill may be any. It may be earned through rigorous studies and the learning can be used as salable utility to the society or for future generations or else through the making something useful from the useless and earn profits. This is too simple and an accepted purpose of the education by the present society. But Jain philosophy has thought far beyond.

Presently, most of the students go to the school, study for the only purpose of getting degrees that could help earning livelihood in the future.

But is it so?

Is the purpose of the education is limited to this narrow purpose?

Can earning livelihood be sole purpose of the education?

Education is for shaping our mind to make us a responsible, knowledgeable and gentle person to make a coherent, harmonious and progressive part of the society.

There are lot many things are that are knowable in the world. Same time we can find that there still remains infinite things yet unknown. Quest of the human being is to know the unknown. Explore the unexplored. That is real urge that erupts in you even if you are a child. You have lot many questions and an immense curiosity to know.

You keep on asking your parents, teachers and elders to seek answers. And when you grow up and find that the unanswered questions are unanswered because the attempts of the past generations have failed and you set yourself to find answers to them. You jump in the untiring quest. You may find answers or not but you enjoy the process.

Education exactly is like this.

Morals and ethics are foundation of Education.

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Without them knowing knowable and efforts to know unknown is not possible. Knowledge without morals and ethics can prove dangerous to the society.

Jain philosophers knew it well. They knew learning is most important part of life but they also knew how the things should be learned. Every subject matter which is being learned is associated with inherent morals and ethics.

For example when the student learns atomic science he should also learn the disastrous effects associated with it. When a student learns languages he also should learn the misuse of the languages made by the supremacist people. Also he should learn how bad it is to misuse language to hurt or flatter someone. He also equally respect other languages as well without keeping grudge against any language. If they don’t this would mean they have not understood the meaning of language. Learning any, even mother tongue also will become bad unless the meaning of the language is understood. Language is a medium of expressing thought, feelings and knowledge, not hatred or enmity.

The knowledge is inert of any vice or good quality. Knowledge becomes good or bad depending on the morals of the user.

If the world is in chaos of the constant struggle between good and bad is only because of misuse of the knowledge. Some use the knowledge for good some use the same knowledge for bad. This causes a clash between both. Hence, any knowledge can cause good or bad effect. The correction is only possible with the morals those go with every kind of knowledge. The teachers must keep in the mind that while teaching any subject, teach the morals associated with that subject. Only then the comprehending ability of the student will go up so that not only he becomes a knowledgeable but morally correct also.

In Jain philosophy the importance of woes is most important. Satya, truth, is supreme woe that helps everyone in living a peaceful and harmonious life. In education too, the approach towards the subjects to be learned must be associated with truth. In fact, quest for knowledge is quest for the truth. It is truth that’s what everyone wants to know. May it be useful for livelihood or enhancing one’s spirituality. And to know the truth students go ultimately to the school. Truth has many facets. The great vow of satya applies to "speech, mind, and deed", and it also means discouraging and disapproving others who perpetuate a falsehood.

If we see, the knowledge that is taught in schools and colleges possibly could be misleading or mixture of truth and hypotheses. The students need to learn what is taught from curriculum but they should be taught to apply there analytical mind to reach the truth with self-efforts. It is essential part of moral that unless the truth of subject matter is reached the education will remain incomplete, no matter the student passes the examinations.

So, why to learn?

One has to learn to know the truths of the subject matters given in syllabus he is interested in or taught. He has to know the truth “truthfully” which makes him morally also correct and true knowledge of the subject matter is attained. This will bring aims of the education and the aims of life together without causing any conflict.

If students are taught with the curriculum morals associated with them the quality of education will be highly enhanced. And truth is one moral besides others which we will deal with in forthcoming chapters.

Learning is not only to attain material goals but the goals of self-satisfaction and self-realization together. And this can be only achieved if morals are associated with the teaching!

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