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  Educare: A practical approach to Education

The following address was offered at the Lotus Feet of Bhagavan by Dr. Michael Goldstein, the chairman of the Sathya Sai Organization in North America, at the inauguration of the International Convention of Sri Sathya Sai Bal Vikas Gurus (Educare Conference) at Prasanthi Nilayam, July 2, 2001.

Dear brothers and sisters, Sai Ram to all of you!

It is the task of this Conference to put forth ideas that will result in the formulation of a Spiritual Education Program. This program will reflect the Divine instructions of Baba for the education of children everywhere. True education, Sai education, imparts practical knowledge which leads to nobility of character and selfless love, and which culminates in the realisation of our innate Divinity.

Our beloved Swami has categorised knowledge by its depth and its importance to life. He refers to several types of knowledge: book knowledge, superficial knowledge, general knowledge, discrimination knowledge and practical knowledge.

Practical knowledge is knowledge and experience of self. The Vedas declare that spirituality begins with self-inquiry and that self-inquiry begins when we ask ourselves the fundamental questions:

Who am I?

From whence have I come?

Where am I going?

Our program must cultivate practical knowledge, which results in nobility of character, and selfless love. We must recognize that the universal human values -- truth, right action, peace, love, and non-violence -- are manifested as we acquire and experience practical knowledge.

A practical loving approach to the development of our Sai education program requires that we acknowledge and respect the importance of culture, tradition, history, and language of all countries. When children are comfortable, when they feel safe and secure, when the learning environment is familiar and compatible with their culture, then levels of attention and comprehension are enhanced.

Swami once said Sathya Sai EHV is a program for small children but EHV is 3HV head, heart, hands. He went on to explain that the conscience must give guidance to the mind which will then issue commands to the body. This is tantamount to the realization that we are not the body or the mind. Rather, we are the atma, the indwelling Divinity, who uses our mind and body as tools to uplift the world with selfless love and service.

In our programs for small children, the Sathya Sai EHV and Bal Vikas Programs, the ability of the teacher to inspire is far more important than the formula defined by the program. The teacher cannot inspire if he or she is not experiencing the values in his/her life.

Teacher as the exemplar of the universal human values is the very essence of the program.

It is essential that the spiritual depth, the spiritual significance of this program is communicated to educators and to parents. If we fear that we will be rejected by public agencies because of our spiritual orientation, then we will merely be presenting another quick fix program for the demoralizing decline of character education for children all over the world. It is imperative that we demonstrate the real spiritual significance of this program to the educators and parents. In this manner they also have the opportunity to apply and transform themselves. Any lesser effort is unworthy of our program.

In conclusion, on behalf of all of us, I humbly and wholeheartedly offer our gratitude to our beloved one, Sai Baba.

Jai Sai Ram.

 (Dr. Michael Goldstein)

Source: http://www.geocities.com/svevani/Nov2001.htm

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