“If someone should show you a small, insignificant seed and tell you that within it is a beautiful scented flower, you will believe them, for you know that from the seed, if tended in fertile soil, comes the plant that will produce the flower. And, if I tell you that within you there is a seed, that, however imperfect it may seem, will bear an excellent person? Many will doubt it! Very well, all you have to do is provide fertile soil and look after the seed, for, from it, will be born a human being who is whole, ethical, capable and happy.”
~ Sathya Sai
The five human values of Truth, Righteousness, Peace, Love and Nonviolence are interdependent and interconnected. Together they represent the five major facets of the human nature and can be compared to the petals of the same flower. Human Values are not merely desired behavioral outcomes, but internal qualities natural to the human being. They are like invisible seeds, awaiting soil, water and sunshine so that they may sprout and grow into beautiful flowers.
According to SSEHV, there are two aspects related to the value of truth: relative truth and absolute truth.
Relative truth is subject to an individual’s perception. It corresponds to what we see, hear and experience through our senses. This form of truth relates to our physical, mental and intellectual experience and is always subject to change.
Absolute truth is changeless and therefore, permanent and undying. As our inquiry into this level of truth deepens, we realise that it represents an invisible and eternal life principle. It is the divine essence of our own being and of the whole world.
The image of a tree can help us illustrate these two aspects of truth. The trunk, branches, leaves, flowers and fruits represent the visible form of the tree. We can see how it changes during the seasons. Underground, hidden from our view, are the tree’s roots. By digging deeply we realize that the roots are the life sustaining part of the tree. In the same way, absolute Truth is the basis and foundation of the relative phenomenal world.
To talk about truth with children means also to help them cultivate a dialogue with themselves and to understand the role of one’s conscience. When our words are in tune with our conscience, we are truthful and honest. Truth can be taught by highlighting and elaborating on its manifold expressions, such as: integrity, discrimination between right and wrong, spirit of inquiry, quest for knowledge, self-analysis, intuition and higher reason.
“What emanates from the heart as a pure idea, when translated into action, is called Righteousness (Dharma).”
~ Sathya Sai
Focusing on Righteousness is essential in education. Its observance implies discerning between good and bad, and helps the child grasp the meaning and importance of rules, rights and responsibilities. It kindles self-control skills and self-discipline. Consistency among thoughts, words and deeds is the royal road to this important human value, which promotes moral and ethical action and a sense of duty.
According to SSEHV, duty entails more than one’s responsibilities, commitments and tasks. The meaning of the word duty is closely related to the Sanskrit word Dharma. Dharma implies the essential nature of a thing, or the essential nature of a human being. For example, the essential nature of fire is to burn and of sugar to be sweet. In the same way, the essential nature of a human being is to manifest the Human Values.
The application of universal principles and laws of society are derived from one fundamental principle, common to all stages and roles. It is the principle to listen to the voice of Conscience. Connection with Conscience builds awareness with respect to the difference between an action prompted by desire and an action prompted by good will.
Life stories of people who excelled in integrity, courage, confidence, determination, selfless service to others and self-discipline, to name a few of the qualities and virtues associated with this value, are an excellent way to help children grasp its overall sense. Righteousness flourishes on good habits and good actions.
“It is by doing just acts that the just man is made and by doing temperate acts that the temperate man is made; without practicing no one ever would have any chance to become good. However, most people do not practice, but are lost in argumentation and imagine that they are being philosophers and that they will become virtuous in this way. They behave like patients who listen attentively to their doctors, but do none of the things they are advised to do. Neither these will cure their body by such a treatment, nor will the former cure their soul by such a course of philosophy.”
~ Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, 1105b9-1
“When there is peace in the individual, there is peace in the family.
When there is peace in the family, there is peace in the community.
When there is peace in the community, there is peace in the nation.
When there is peace in the nation, there is peace in the world.”
~ Sathya Sai
Peace is a life goal for all people, and yet we can testify how despite the advances in science and technology, war and strife continue to prevail in our world and there is no peace in the human heart. This lack of harmony can be felt at all societal levels: in the individual, the family, the nation and among nations. The reasons are many. To foster peace in education means to explore these reasons and to cultivate the necessary life skills to help children develop and maintain a state of calm, contentment and balance.
Our mind is responsible for the way we perceive things, and, as a consequence, for our inner peace. This is why positive thinking is an important aspect of a holistic process of education. It is an essential life-skill to know how to maintain peace by building detachment and equanimity of mind. When the waves of the ocean ebb, we have a clear view of what lies hidden on the bottom of the ocean bed. Similarly, when the ruffles of our mind even out, we are able to see and think clearly.
People often say: “I want Peace”. Sathya Sai Baba responds: “Take away ‘I’, i.e. ego, take away ‘want’, i.e. desires, and you are left with Peace!” It is the role of education to empower children to hold the reigns of their senses and to direct them to expand from ‘I’ to ‘We’. The thoughts they entertain should be elevated and noble, and along with detachment and discrimination, we should encourage children to nurture love and an attitude of service for all beings.
One way to calm the ongoing inner flux, is by learning to sit quietly and turn within. To allot quiet time during one’s school day or home schedule can influence them profoundly and positively. Not only does a regular habit of silent sitting nurture inner calm, but also builds concentration and memory, and reorients and transforms obstructive tendencies.
“Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me”
~ Jill Jackson-Miller and Sy Miller, 1955
Love in speech is Truth.
Love in action is Right Action.
Love in thought is Peace.
Love in understanding of oneness is Non-violence.
~ Sathya Sai
In our search for love, we often refer to feelings and emotions. Yet feelings come and go and our emotions are dependent on our state of mind and always changing. SSEHV guides us to look deeper, identifying love as a subtle and yet powerful energy, which unites all beings and brings harmony and joy. An energy that sustains the world and creation; that moves “the sun and moon, and other stars”.*
*Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy Paradise XIII, Canto 147
Fritjof Capra, in his celebrated book Tao of Physics said that “modern physics has revealed that every subatomic particle not only performs an energy dance, but also is an energy dance; a pulsating process of creation and destruction.” * Love is the background of this ceaseless flow of energy which goes through an infinite variety of cosmic patterns. If this divine Love is awakened in the human heart, it can lead to the realization of the oneness of all creation.
* The Tao of Physics, ch. 15, The Cosmic Dance
There are three kinds of love
To bring the value of Love into education means sensitising the child towards care for others, empathy, and values such as patience and forgiveness. To learn that the loving energy within oneself resides in all beings and all of creation, builds awareness of unity in diversity, and it fosters values such as cooperation, sharing and solidarity. Just as seeds sown in our garden need fertilizer, water and sunshine, the seeds of love sown in the tender hearts of young children need the nourishment of the simple, yet powerful dictum of Sathya Sai:
“Be good, think good, see good, hear good, speak good, do good”.
“Nonviolence is a force that can be used equally by all - children, young people, adult men and women - provided they have a living faith in the God of love and therefore an equal love for all humanity.”
~ Mahatma Gandhi
When we respect Truth, adhere to Right Conduct, spread loving feelings towards all, and recognise the value of Peace, we are sowing the seeds of Nonviolence. The practice of Nonviolence does not only refer to refraining from physical or verbal violence and aggressiveness. Negative thoughts can be equally harmful. Nonviolence means abstaining from causing harm to one- self or others, by inflicting pain or injury in thought, word and deed.
The value of Nonviolence builds caring and responsible citizens, ready to learn how to relieve the pain of others and to cooperate in a spirit of togetherness. Positive solution-finding skills, tolerance and acceptance of differences, care for Earth’s natural resources and selfless service to the destitute and the sick, all come about when Nonviolence becomes a major focus point for the students. Nonviolence is a state of consciousness in which the individual experiences the essential oneness and unity of all creation.
“The five values can be likened to the five fingers. Each finger plays a valuable and important role in the unified action of the hand. Together, the five fingers lead to strength. In the same way, when the five Human Values are together, it results in co-operation and unity, which is true human life.”
~ Sathya Sai
Introduction to the Sathya Sai Education in Human Values programme, known also as Sathya Sai EDUCÆRE.