by Chariji, June 28, 2005, Chennai, India.
Address to students on the opening day of Lalaji Memorial Omega School
My dear children,
I wish you all a very good morning and very good years of education in this school, where you will be taught to become human beings with a heart, and educated to a good level of competence. I hope you understand my English. All of you? [Students: Yes.] Home is the first school in life. There we are taught about relatives, about basic manners, cleanliness, a little about God, how to eat (not too well, but wisely), and then we are thrown into school on a day like this.
The first days of school are always full of nervousness mixed with a lot of hope, isn't it? But as we grow, the nervousness decreases and the hope increases – hope for the future. Nervousness goes because we make friends; we learn to be friendly with our teachers. We learn to accept education as a necessary evil, discipline as an even more necessary evil, and eventually (when we graduate out of school and go to college), in the process of socialisation as we call it – your ability to mix with other human beings, not [only] our family. So the small family is what we begin with; in school we become members of a bigger family; in college we become members of an even bigger family – and then we are married, go into our jobs and the whole world must become our family. This is also part of our education.
So in education we have several parts: one is to teach us what the family should already have laid a foundation for – ethical behaviour (‘ethical' means honest); and the ability to share with others and to love everybody. Love everybody means we don't love just what we are or our families or the people of our religion, but all human beings. And as we grow older, we learn to love dogs, we learn to love cats, we learn to love our cow and thus we learn how to love all life. So love begins with the family and must grow and mature into a love for all life: butterflies, bees, birds, everything. So our school, this Lalaji Memorial Omega School, will try to do all these things for you, but if you don't cooperate, the teachers can do nothing.
What is the need, and what do we mean by cooperation? Obedience, first. Learn what you have to learn, obey what you are told to do, sitting with discipline, not disturbing others, because when we disturb others, not only are you spoiling yourself, you are spoiling the other child also. This is the first step.
The second step is to do your homework, classwork, with care. We call it ‘meticulous' in English, m-e-t-i-c-u-l-o-u-s, meticulous – that is, precisely. When you answer a question you must read it first. If you say, "What is two plus two?" And "Oh, I know," and you write six, you are wrong. Read the question: is it two plus two, or three plus three, or four plus two? Because, suppose I ask you what are the combinations that will lead to a result of six, you know how many there are? It can be infinite because one plus five, two plus four, three plus three, and then seven minus one, eight minus two – it can go on and on. There is no limit to it. So it is called a question with infinite answers. Whereas, if I had asked you, "What is the sum of two and two?" there is only one answer: "Two plus two is four." Isn't it? So you have to learn to think properly, think carefully, and translate your thought into action in writing down the answers. So this is school.
Schoolwork is very nice. It can be very, shall we say, entertaining also. It can be an enjoyment if you tackle it in the right way. If you are afraid and if instead of hope you have only fear about the future, school life can be an absolute…. I know people who have dropped out of school because they are afraid of everything. I know people who have just breezed through school because they had hope in their heart, love in their heart, and the ability to obey and do what they were told.
So this school has to teach you all these things and, of course, in this our teachers have a big part to play. Somebody just sang about sacrifice. Teachers have to sacrifice. Sacrifice means students have to sacrifice their time in which they would like to climb trees and play football, and instead of that, study – that is a sacrifice. But later on, when you see the effect that you have, the benefits that you get… You know, sacrifice is the only thing that will give you excellent results. You like too many sweets? You sacrifice and you don't eat sweets – you are healthy. You like to lie down in bed doing nothing? Get up, walk, run, play – you have good health. So, in everything there is sacrifice.
What are the sacrifices that the teachers have to make? Their time. Most importantly, they have to sacrifice their tendency to be angry, and be patient, because to teach is not a joke. To teach is very serious business because they are developing children who will be citizens of this country in the future. So they have to sacrifice their temper and accept patience. They have to sacrifice their hurry to make good people of you and accept patience again, knowing that each child will grow at its own pace. We are not horses to run a race. Somebody will learn mathematics very well; somebody will learn geography very well, but the maths teacher will have to be very patient with that child. Every time you say, "Two plus two," it will say, "Three," it will say, "Six." Then it will yawn, look out of the window. The teachers will have to be very patient.
So I exhort the teachers to have patience, which can come only with love for the children. If they love their children they are patient. Have you seen mothers feeding their babies – how patient they are? They put the food in the mouth [and the baby turns away]. The mother wants to give a spank, but she cannot. Daddy will spank, not mother! So she will take another spoon, and say, "Look there, open your mouth," and put it in. Like that we have to have patience at all stages of our life. So if your teachers are angry, tell them, "Miss, Miss, what did Chariji say on the opening day of the school?" Tell them because they also have to learn to teach. We have to learn how to learn; they have to learn how to teach. And the more they teach, the better teachers they become – like the more you play football, the better football you play. Isn't it?
So this is all that I wish to say to you all on the opening day of the school. Enjoy school, because anything that we do which we enjoy will help us. If we hate school, we are not going to learn anything. School is a place of prayerful learning. That is why we have prayer in the morning. When we pray we open our hearts; minds are opened only when hearts are opened. If the heart does not accept, the mind will not accept.
So, simple facts I have given you today about education, because once I was also like you: sitting, very scared. I joined a British school, all sahibs, gora sahibs [white sir] as we say. "What are you doing, Chari?" But we learn to take the good with the bad and make the bad also good. That is life. Life is converting everything that is bad into what is good for us.
So God bless all of you. May you all grow into lovely children, lovely gentlemen and ladies. And when people ask you, "Are you from Lalaji Omega School?" (not "Which school?"), the school will be a success – when they look at you and say, "You must have studied in Lalaji Omega School." Isn't it?"