The first thing to know in this matter is that you cannot instil anything into the student from outside. You can only awaken from outside what is already within the student. Even then, if you tell him, ‘I am the teacher and you are the student; I am calling you up, so you must wake up’, that will not do. But if the teacher sincerely loves him, that love would knock and open the gates of the student’s heart. Teachers or those who think they teach others often make this mistake of underestimating the potentials of the student, often consider them as ignorant, foolish, and insignificant beings. So their calls cannot rouse any response in the student’s heart. Their efforts become futile.
The teacher ought to learn to respect the student and sincerely love him. He must realize that he is not separate from but one with the student. That realization of the teacher would expedite the student’s progress, the waking up of his potentials. Now, to gain that capability the teacher has to be pure. We find in our ancient shāstras: the āchārya, having been observing brahmacharya, praying that students come to him. To teach others in the true sense, one must be pure. Unless the teacher’s life is such, no amount of endeavour would ever rouse the student up.
Why is the present education not efficacious? Why do we say that the schools, colleges, and universities are not able to make proper men or to build character? A report from 19 eminent academicians in the US on the education system in vogue there analysed the terrible degradation even in the US universities and opined that education failed to mould the young minds in the right way and that it failed to develop their character. How to do it then? The teachers must mould their own minds properly first.
Swamiji said, ‘The training by which the current and expression of will are brought under control and become fruitful is called education.’ Swamiji defined education in various ways, but here what he said is very much important: the current of willpower must be brought under control, one should be able to express in the right manner, and that expression must bear the desired result. That will bring all success – whether in big undertakings or in small actions. So, the main thing, the root, is here: this willpower. Without it, neither the teacher can achieve anything, nor the student. If the teacher is not a man of character, pure and sincere, such life cannot be transmitted to the student. For the call of awakening comes not from talk, but from life. A pure life alone can inspire another life to blossom with purity. An enlightened life alone can light up another heart. So, that light must be lit within me, before I can enlighten others.
We say there is no better teacher than Sri Ramakrishna or Swami Vivekananda, for they gave the real education to humanity. How could they do so? Their lives were absolutely pure, and thus they could transmit it to others. So, that is the fundamental method of education.