Deconstructing Liberation – Education & Religion

Religion has defined our identity since societal constructs came into being. Education comes in a close second. Both have defined our place in the society but have both as ideas evolved over time?

Someone recently mentioned how the sign of true evolution of Religion is the extent to which it helps us detach from materialism. The more it tries to bind us down , the less evolved it is. When it helps us move away from any form of return , it truly sets us free and in that notion can we completely connect with our purpose , our true self.

Religion , like education , is the journey and not really the destination .Evolution in both is liberation.

Our recent travels took us to Bodhigaya , famous as a religious pilgrimage site for Buddhists. Under the Bodhi tree in the Mahabodhi temple , Gautama Buddha is said to have obtained enlightenment.

Staunch followers of religion as a practice , don’t acknowledge Buddhism as a religion . The idea of detachment married with it’s lack of complexities makes it less appealing compared to say Hinduism – a religion I can safely speak about , being born into it.

Hinduism with its idea of seven lives , its richness in terms of tales of Gods and Demons , the very many Vedas and religious writings to guide us in living an ideal life – makes it quite wholesome. So much so , that as a religion it gives a framework for education , employment , relationships – not only during life but for afterlife too.

Buddhism on the other hand, like I mentioned quite early on, is about detachment as a practice. Far away from the richness of Gods and sacred texts, no framework for living or their relationships with the divine. A lot of it open to interpretation.

How can something that’s so simple as an idea be evolved? Doesn’t evolution come with the ripeness of age and the accessorisation that generation of inherited followers as a legacy can bring in?

Imagine the idea of ‘daan’ or giving. When ‘how much’ is purely an individualistic decision. A lot of us would give away a ten rupee note to a beggar on an ordinary day, maybe a hundred or more on an occasion without much thought. But would you denounce all your wealth to someone you met on the street who seemed needy to you without the pinch and the pain? You may answer in negative but there are many who have done so without much thought or resentment.

They are detached from the idea of ‘personal wealth’. Philanthropist’s infact consider wealth as a responsibility than a privilege. For an individual, if one’s notion of happiness is less connected to the tangible, the more liberating it is. Detachment with that kind of clarity of thought is evolution. Be it religion or education, it’s entirely individualistic.

Which brings me to the idea of Education and my recent discovery of Liberal Education as a means of free world. I’ve written about an early exploration here. When education becomes a journey towards our purpose and not really a tool to get a better job or conform to a pre-set norm , it imitates the idea of religion . Traditional education with its focus on a certain standards of achievement and defined frameworks of acquired learning can be compared to the more popular belief systems such as that of religion. They may be age-old and have a huge following but are they evolved? The answer to that needs to be internalized for one’s own consumption than to make some kind of point.

Quite like the idea that a doctor should heal , an academician should impart knowledge , a builder should bring communities together and an artist should help us transcend – gives true meaning to education. When these ‘professions’ have the idea of ‘giving’ at their core , they’ll create individuals that find a middle path between personal gains and giving , making education a journey to reach a larger collective purpose. It would be an ideal world but wouldn’t that be evolution in the truest sense?

I’ve rediscovered, Education, like religion, should bring one closer to one’s own idea of freedom .

For me that freedom is a sense of meaning or purpose . I am not at all suggesting that as the perfect path of self discovery. It’s a luxury to hold this opinion , a privilege that someone with two professional degrees , a decade and half of acquired wisdom ,  reasonable personal wealth and sense of self that one accumulates . I have done so as a traditionalist student , an active participant in life and a curious onlooker who has explored religion with a need based involvement.

In this idea of discovery – wherein I am looking for meaning with a balanced approach, lies my liberation . A middle path for me is my individual evolution. Detachment , Balance , Accomplishment , Growth – What defines Liberation for you?

Follow my #ReinventIn2018 journey here.

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