FROM earliest times, among all but modern western people, the teacher was accorded the greatest reverence.
Pupils were taught from an early age to look upon their teachers as second only to father and mother in dignity.
“It was a great sin, a thing that did one actual harm in his moral being,” explains William Q. Judge in Letter 12 of Letters That Have Helped Me, “to be disrespectful to his teacher even in thought.”
“The reason for this,” he says, “lies in the fact that a long chain of influence extends from the highest spiritual guide who may belong to any man, down through vast numbers of spiritual chiefs, ending at last even in the mere teacher of our youth.
“A chain extends up from our teacher or preceptors to the highest spiritual chief in whose ray or descending line one may happen to be. And it makes no difference whatever, in this occult relation, that neither pupil nor final guide may be aware, or admit, that this is the case.”
“Nor again does it matter that a child has a teacher who evidently gives him a bad system. This is his Karma, and by his reverent and diligent attitude he works it out, and transcends that erstwhile teacher. This chain of influence is called the Guruparampara chain.
“Thus it happens that a child who holds his teacher in reverence and diligently applies himself accordingly with faith, does no violence to this intangible but mighty chain, and is benefited accordingly, whether he knows it or not.”
As a young girl, Malala Yousafzai defied the Taliban in Pakistan and demanded that girls be allowed to receive an education. She was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman in 2012, but survived.
What is the real object of modern education? Mme. Blavatsky asked, and answered: “to cultivate and develop the mind in the right direction. To teach the disinherited and hapless to carry with fortitude the burdens of life.
“To strengthen their will — to inculcate in them the love of one’s neighbour and the feeling of mutual interdependence and brotherhood — and thus to train and form the character for practical life.
“These are undeniably the objects of all true education,” she maintained. “No one denies it — all your educationalists admit it, and talk very big indeed on the subject.
“But what is the practical result of their action? Every young man and boy, nay, every one of the younger generation of schoolmasters will answer:
“‘The object of modern education is to pass examinations’ … and thus train them for a life of ferocious selfishness and struggle for honours and emoluments instead of kindly feeling.
“And what are these examinations — the terror of modern youth? They are simply a method of classification by which the results of your school teaching are tabulated. In other words, they form the practical application of the modern science method to the genus homo, qua intellection.”
“Now ‘science’ teaches that intellect is a result of the mechanical interaction of the brain-stuff — therefore it is only logical that modern education should be almost entirely mechanical — a sort of automatic machine for the fabrication of intellect by the ton.
“Very little experience of examinations is enough to show that the education they produce is simply a training of the physical memory, and, sooner or later,” Blavatsky warned, “all your schools will sink to this level. As to any real, sound cultivation of the thinking and reasoning power, it is simply impossible while everything has to be judged by the results as tested by competitive examinations.”
“Children should above all be taught self-reliance, love for all men, altruism, mutual charity, and more than anything else, to think and reason for themselves. We would reduce the purely mechanical work of the memory to an absolute minimum, and devote the time to the development and training of the inner senses, faculties and latent capacities.
“We would endeavour to deal with each child as a unit, and to educate it so as to produce the most harmonious and equal unfoldment of its powers, in order that its special aptitudes should find their full natural development.
“We should aim at creating free men and women, free intellectually, free morally, unprejudiced in all respects, and above all things, unselfish. And we believe that much if not all of this could be obtained by proper and truly theosophical education.
– H. P. Blavatsky
Edited excerpts from:
The Key to Theosophy, Section 13
“Theosophists and women
The blog Blavatsky News, “An informative site for those with an interest in Helena Petrovna Blavatsky,” Thursday, February 28, 2013 posted a piece captioned “Mother and mentor from America…” copied in full below:
Options, the bi-annual magazine published by the Women and Media Collective in Colombo, Sri Lanka, for February 27 carries a piece turning our attention to an area that still needs further study. Vinod Moonesinghe’s “Theosophists and women in politics” looks at the impact of Theosophy on Sri Lankan women.
The Theosophists provided the impetus for the awakening of the island’s womanhood. Although the role of Colonel Henry Steel Olcott in the revival of Buddhism has been acknowledged in this country, the crucial part played in forming the B[uddhist] T[heosophical] S[ociety] by the main initiator of modern Theosophy, Madam Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, is virtually ignored. Yet, at the time, the pre-eminence of ‘HPB’ was unchallenged.
His focus here is on the development of women’s education during the colonial period, an area he has already written about in his “Olcott, the Picketts and Buddhist women’s education” published in Colombo’s Daily News last year, and especially the role of Marie Musaeus Higgins (1855-1926), a Theosophist from America who came to Sri Lanka in 1891 to further women’s education. Musaeus went on to found Musaeus College for women in Colombo, and its work continues today. The Daily News carried a feature on her, “Musaeus, mother and mentor from America…” on November 19, 2012.