There are states and states of consciousness; there are profundities and widenesses; there are heights over heights. To discover them one has to enlarge and explore ever-widening possibilities of psychological experience. In the depths of the being we may begin to integrate the threads and complexities of what we are and can become. It is there, perhaps, rather than in books or preachings, that we may begin to perceive and live what precisely is our aim of life. Free from dogmas and fixed beliefs, in the purity of experience, we may hope to discover the answer to the all-important questions: What am I to do? What role do I have to play in the vast and mysterious universe? What is the best and highest goal that I should aim to realise?
But from no human endeavour - particularly when at a collective and general level- is it easy or desirable to eliminate intellectual inquiry. On the contrary, such an inquiry can be an excellent aid in the ultimate search for the aim of life - a direct search that is based on disciplined practice and experience. But the inquiry must be unfettered by narrow or exclusive assumptions, and carried out in the spirit of sincere exploration. Throughout the history of awakened thought, there has been a persistent questioning as to what is the aim of human life. Answers have been sought at various levels of reflection and critical thought. Answers derived from morality, religion or spiritual experience have also often been expressed in ways which are accessible to our rational understanding. The inquiring mind needs to reflect on these answers and arrive at its own conclusions.
We speak today of value-oriented education and of integral education. It is not necessary to define these two terms here, nor is it easy to do so. But it is clear that certain precautions must be taken if value-oriented education is not to degenerate into something narrow, rigid, and dogmatic. Firstly, each individual must be given the freedom to explore the full realm of values as comprehensively as possible. Secondly, this exploration must not be limited to the realm of morality alone, but must cover as well the values inherent in the physical, intellectual, aesthetic and spiritual realms. Similarly, an unreflecting insistence on integral education can degenerate into a hodge-podge of disciplines in all their innumerable aspects and details, unless we are able to discover some unifying direction in which the various disciplines of knowledge and experience can find an ever-progressive synthesis and harmonization. A free pursuit of the theme of the aim of life could prove a salutary beginning, and even, in a sense, provide a fulfilling climax.
All those who have the responsibility of educating children and youth will have to think out the implications of value-oriented and integral education. They will also have to undergo the training required for them progressively to embody, in their lives and personalities, the experiences gained in their pursuit of values and of integrated development of the being. This book is especially addressed to all those who have this responsibility. The material presented here is meant to encourage a free exploration into the theme of the aim of life. The texts have been selected from many important works related to the aim of life, in the spirit of collecting at random some flowers from a beautiful garden. The limitation of space does not permit us to include as many texts as we wish to. In due course, we shall have an opportunity to bring out a second volume on this theme.
Each text is preceded by an introduction and, when needed, is followed by explanatory notes and comments. Thus, the reader can study the texts without needing to consult other sources. Drawings, sketches, paintings, diagrams, photographs and other symbolic or explicit statements have been added to help the reader understand the texts with a greater ease and joy.
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