Adult Education and Yoga
Anand Prakash, MA, Publications Dept., Literacy House, Lucknow
The term 'adult education' has been used differently by various adult
educationists. The emphasis has been placed on one or more of the following
aspects of an adult's life:
- Awareness of life problems and their root causes
- Change in attitude and behaviour
- Acclimatisation to the present surroundings
- Accessibility to the spheres of new knowledge
- 'Fullness' of life
- Awareness of one's own dignity
- Development of analytical thinking
- Increased consciousness
- Improvement in external activities:
- a) performance of civic duties
- b) increased efficiency in work performance
- c) increased sources of family income
- d) individual or group efforts to improve community life
- Improvement in health status.
One can easily compress these aspects into one word- development. The
development of adults, both illiterate and literate, in an age range from
15 to 45 years, has been the main concern of the adult educationists.
The word 'development' conveys the meanings which are both as subtle and
deep as various imperceptible levels of human personality, and as gross
and conspicuous as outer levels of life such as material comforts, money,
etc. The development, in its gross sense, covers three major aspects of
life-social, economic and cultural. It also lays emphasis on an adult's
increased capacity to analyse and nationalise the events or acts. According
to the yogic viewpoint, such development is like a building erected on
an unstable foundation. Undoubtedly, this state of development can be
fully or partly attained, but it will not last long. Often the former,
subtle aspect is ignored, without realising the fact that the outward
development alone is not only ephemeral and temporary but superficial
too. A coverage of both the aspects presents the real picture of a developed
The following thoughts are presented in support of this hypothesis for
consideration of the adult educationists:
- An adult's problems and their root causes, a chief concern of the
adult educationists, cannot be correctly identified unless the root problems,
called 'kleshas' in yogic language, are tackled. Surface problems of poverty,
illiteracy, ignorance, social evils, etc. can only be hidden behind the
curtain of temporary relief measures, despite sincere efforts of the adult
educators, unless the root problems are removed through a yogic discipline
imposed on the life.
- Change in attitude and behaviour is much talked of in adult education
circles and has a close relationship with the working of the mind. Unless
and until the consciousness of the individual, which generally works at
the lower levels of mind, is made to journey upwards, through yogic meditation
to the higher levels of mind, no permanent change in the attitude and
behaviour is possible- simply by taking resort to educational techniques
such as conducting group discussions, organising study tours, exhibitions,
Complexes, fears, tensions, stresses- the bitter gifts of the modern
age- considered to be some of the major obstacles in the way to the behavioural
and attitudinal change, cannot be got rid of merely through exposing the
adults to the oral and written words until body and mind are fully relaxed
through yogic practices. Purification of body and mind is one of the aims
of yoga. The purification breaks down the complexes, etc. and replaces
them with correct and healthy mental programming.
- How an adult should be enabled to acclimatise to his living environment
- quickly changing society and its values- especially in industrialised
and urban areas, has been lurking in the minds of adult education program
planners for quite a long time. If an adult is able to establish an harmonious
relationship with the external world, he can get rid of many of his mental
disturbances. This is possible through the yogic practices combined with
the autosuggestion technique which reprogram the adult's mind and bring
about the desired results in his life. The yogic techniques of meditation
enable an individual to flow with the life rather than fight with it.
They program the mind in such a way that a state of non-anxiety is attained,
self consciousness disappears, and it becomes easy to form a real estimate
of external events without any stress or disturbance.
- Doses of new knowledge, covering social, economic and cultural development,
including alphabetisation skills, are administered to the adults through
the written-spoken words and various audio-visual aids. The knowledge,
thus imparted, is received by them at the rational level of their minds.
Little has been thought of their intuitive knowledge and creativity which
are seated at the higher levels of their mind- the super conscious part
of the mind. If the adults are enabled through the yogic practices to
move their consciousness to those levels of their mind, the capabilities
and knowledge which they will receive from those ends will provide a very
solid base to what they are receiving at the rational level of what yoga
terms as 'middle mind' by the adult educators.
- The adult educationists have been contemplating the ways of enabling
adults to lead a 'full' life. By fullness is meant the fullest use of
their capability, creativity and potentials. Modern psychologists hold
that normally an individual does not use more than one tenth of the possible
capacity of his brain. Sometimes an adult has a natural flair for something
without knowing it.
The knowledge of the psychic realm of his existence may reveal to an
adult the whole vista of his potentialities. The various centres, called
chakras in yogic terminology, situated in his psychic body are very closely
associated with many useful things e.g. rising above the animal nature,
gaining vitality and energy, divine manifestation of love, states of blissful
intoxication, acquiring powers of intuition, viewing events occurring
on planes other than the physical, etc. If these chakras are concentrated
upon through the yogic practices, many of the untapped faculties which
are presently inactive or unconnected with the adult's consciousness,
will be awakened. This will pave the way to what the psychologists call
a life of 'self actualisation' or in other words fully illumined potentialities.
The yogic meditation can very well take care of those adults who lack
initiative and do not want to respond even when the opportunity knocks
at their doors. Both psychologists and yogis feel that an individual should
not be allowed to lead a stagnant life, remaining always in the same mould.
He should be constantly inspired to develop more and more. By practicing
the yogic meditation, an adult can lead an active life, fully conscious
of his potentialities and creativity, free of tensions and fears, with
his mind completely harmonised with his surroundings.
- Awareness of one's own dignity is something which an adult wants to
treasure. The scientists hold that each cell contains total knowledge
of our evolutionary past. The yogis say that infinite knowledge exists
within and an individual is 'a miniaturised version of the universe'.
When, through the yogic practices, the consciousness of an individual
is allowed to soar high and transcend the higher levels of mind, the seat
of super consciousness, then the real 'I' is seen who reveals this reality.
This revelation transforms an individual into a divine entity.
- Development of analytical thinking is one of the goals of adult education
but it can hardly be regarded as one of the ultimate goals. The yogic
practices can lead an individual beyond the regions of intellect (analysing,
rationalising, etc.) to the regions where everything is transcended, where
words lose their importance, gestures become ineffective, and intellect
becomes a hindrance. There exists what can only be experienced, a blissful,
divine experience that is much higher than mere intellectual delights.
- The adult educationists have been trying to increase the consciousness
of the adults so that they come to know about various avenues of development,
many openings of activities and diverse outlets for their energy. If this
increase is confined to the intellectual levels of the mind, the result
is liable to be negative and distressing. The new knowledge of the avenues,
openings and outlets will give birth to new desires which in turn will
create dissatisfaction as all of them will not be fulfilled. Let their
consciousness, therefore, be developed vertically upwards to the higher
levels of mind rather than horizontally on the lower levels of intellect.
- Improvement of external activities e.g. individual or group efforts
to improve the community life, vocational jobs to increase the family
income, participation in vocational training programs, performances of
civic duties, etc. forms a major part in the adult education programs.
According to the philosophy of yoga, it is an adult's inner being which
endows him with the ability to do the external activities efficiently.
If the inner being is not in harmony with his external environment this
reflects in the lack of skill, interest, energy and enthusiasm. When one
dives deeper into his mind, to learn about the functioning of his inner
being, in the state of yogic meditation, the results begin to manifest
themselves in the form of external activities.
- Raising the health status of an adult is one of the major aims of
adult education. It refers to an improvement in both his mental and physical
health. It is now being realised that the present age of competitive living
can negatively affect the mind. The intense external activity, another
characteristic of this age, may also have bad effects. Yoga can take care
of the mental health of the adults through its meditation techniques.
Meditation frees the mind from all conflicts and worries. It enables one
to harmonise his mind with his surroundings. It makes one feel that in
him is a storehouse of inner energy which he can direct to malfunctioning
organs and even his physical diseases can be cured by this energy.
In the state of meditation, involuntary systems of the body are controlled.
This results in the reduced metabolic rate of the body. The stimulation
of adrenal and sympathetic systems over long periods of time, the root
cause of many diseases, is also controlled as the body is completely relaxed
and free from tensions and fears. Meditation also makes the septal regions
(part of the limbic system situated in the brain) operate for a longer
time, thereby releasing tensions. It is therefore not advisable for the
adult educators to make the adults depend on medicinal therapy until the
root causes of the disease are removed by yogic techniques. Yogic therapy
is a 'whole' treatment of the disease whereas medicines only cure the
affected organs, often with repercussions on the other organs. The interrelationship
between mind and body establishes the supremacy of the effect of meditation
on disease. Other yogic techniques such as asanas and pranayama also exert
a very positive influence on the diseased body.
An effort has been made here to show how yoga can help the adults develop
in the real sense of the term and not merely on the external levels of
material prosperity and increased intellectual knowledge. No effort has
been made, intentionally, to enumerate and elucidate the yogic techniques
as it would have been out of place in the present context.
It is not the least intended to confine the adults within the boundaries
of any religion or dogma through yogic practices. Yoga is a way of life.
Different stages of meditation are its milestones. Yoga is within easy
reach of each and every adult of any nation, caste, creed or sex, irrespective
of his literacy and educational background.
The dimensions of the adult education programs are more varied and deeper
than what they are thought to be. Let the adult educationists come forward
to join hands with yoga and try to dive even deeper into the lives of
adults. The integration of yoga with the adult education programs augurs
well for the future.