We have a question from Nidhi,

How is academics and spirituality related to each other?

For example, I am doing civil engineering,how can i look at engineering with a  perspective or view? Does education (for example: civil engineering) lead to any kind of spiritual advancement or upliftment in a person?

Spirituality is related to everything, not just academics.

One can be a street sweeper and remain spiritual while one can be a great saint and remain spiritually disconnected. It doesn’t matter what your “Karma” is since your spirit can be determined regardless of what you do on a regular basis.

On a very basic level, Spirituality is understanding why you exist and what your Dharma is. It is finding the Why in your existence and figuring out how that fits in this universe. It hardly matters who you are and what you are doing at this time.

One can be a common man and achieve spiritual upliftment while one can be very educated and remain spiritually disconnected. It doesn’t matter whether you are educated or not, whether you are rich or poor, good looking or ugly – these are simply external parameters that you attach to your physical identity. Spiritual development is actually your “Karana sarira” which is independent of your “Sthula sarira” and “Sukshma sarira”.

So it doesn’t matter what you do and what you think, your spiritual development is independent of these external paramters.

In case you are not aware of what “Karana sarira”, “Sthula sarira” and “Sukshma sarira” is, here are the definitions

You are a mixture of three bodies – matter, mind and soul.

  • Matter – your physical body – “Sthula Sarira” –  The gross body is the material physical mortal body that eats, breathes and moves (acts).
  • Mind – Your mental body – “Sukshma Sarira” – The subtle body is the body of the mind and the vital energies, which keeps the physical body alive. This is that body which thinks, which acts acording to the thoughts it has.
  • Soul – Your causal body – “Karana Sarira” – The causal body. It is the soul, the seed of the subtle body and the gross body. It is that little seed which when planted in a field, becomes a tree with a trunk, branches, fruits and creates a whole host of ecosystem around it. This is the Spiritual body which is independent of the other two bodies and resides at a higher position.

Does Education Lead to Spiritual Upliftment?

The next part of your question – Does education lead to Spiritual upliftment?

It depends how you define what education is.

Going to a college and earning a degree is not education. Education is having knowledge about a subject and learning how to use that knowledge in different context(s) of life.

  • Simply because a subject went to a college doesn’t make him/her educated.
  • Simply because someone is well off and earns a living doesn’t make him a responsible citizen.
  • Simply because a person performs prayers every day doesn’t mean he is closer to god.

This is the fallacy that we believe to be true – we think we are educated but in reality we are heedless fools who do not have knowledge about different disciplines and we claim that we have received education.

So you are studying civil engineering? That’s good. You need to ask yourself these questions

  • Why am I studying civil engineering? Why not chemical engineering? Why not dancing? Why not fishing? Why not acting? Why not gymnastics? Why civil engineering?
  • What do I intend to do after I am done learning civil engineering to some extent?
  • How will I apply this knowledge to improve my life and life of others around me? How will I bring a positive change in society with the application of that knowledge.

Most people don’t know the answers to these questions. I didn’t knew the answers when I was in college. I got enrolled in college because I saw all my friends going to a college and I thought I too must enroll in a college. Then I took  up computer science because I was familiar with a computer and knew something about how it worked.

So see, this is the fundamental mistake.

I don’t know why I am entering college. I don’t know why I am taking computer science. I don’t know how I am going to apply this knowledge to bring a positive change in society. I don’t know the Why?

It is simply because I have been trained by a system not to think about the “Why?”. I have spent 12 years in school and School never taught me to think about the “Why?”. I have always been taught how to follow and obey orders by teachers, rote learn, get good marks and that’s all. The institution never taught me how to figure out the “Why?”. The institution is designed in such a way that everyone follows the same template blindly and they forget the very basic principle –

Why am I learning what I am learning? How do I figure out what is necessary to learn and what is not necessary to learn? How do I figure out the bigger purpose and what I want to actually do in life?

So in this case, it can be concluded that I am spiritually ignorant. I am doing something because everyone around me is doing the same thing and I feel that I must do it too. I am getting a degree so that I can get a job to provide for myself. However, I have no idea whether what I am learning is actually going to help me and the society going forward.

This is simply madness.

And not just me and you, thousands and millions of students are getting robbed every day by institutions like Schools and Colleges who claim to be “Educational institutions” but they do not provide “Real education”. What they provide is a template which gives a return on investment in a material world e.g a job, a campus placement and so on.

There is a guy  who is just 15 years old and helps his father bake excellent Bengali sweets loved by people in my neighborhood. He never went to school or college and he loves preparing sweets which people love.

That is “Real education”. This person has

  • Learned how to create value and enrich human lives by preparing sweets
  • Learned how to make a living by doing something he loves
  • Is honest, respectful and brings a positive change in society without following the templates of “School”, “College” and other institutions.

Is he spiritually elevated? Of course he is. He has identified the “Why”. His karma has been defined.

Education can lead to spiritual development , provided the education is real, and you are able to bring a positive change  in your life and in the life of others through the application of the knowledge you have obtained. It can be anything

  • You can learn how to create awesome lemon juice and use that as a platform to achieve spiritual development
  • You can learn how to wash clothes and use that as a platform to achieve spiritual development
  • You can learn how to drive a car and use that as a platform to achieve spiritual development
  • You can learn how to teach people and use that as a platform to achieve spiritual development

However, you will fail to achieve spiritual development if you follow these paths

  • You join a college and take up a subject without knowing what you are doing
  • You graduate and then take up a job without knowing what you want to do in life.
  • You quit your job to go for another degree thinking that once you have that degree you will get a better job.
  • You get your degree and join a high paying job thinking that you have achieved your objective

Yes, this will certainly help you achieve luxuries and amenities in life but you will not have any spiritual development at all. This is because you are chasing material goals and your education or work is simply a vehicle to achieve your material goals, not the work itself.

You are getting a college degree to fulfill a material desire – I want to get a job. This will not  help you achieve spiritual development. If you really want to achieve spiritual development, then you should choose something you love and can connect with. Then you find a mentor and train yourself in that thing on your own (there is no need to go to any college or other so called educational institution). Once you have achieved your training from a person who knows the craft, you start bringing positive change in the society through work. That is the way towards spiritual development and character upliftment.

What we see today in modern world is quite the opposite. In pursuit of worldly goals and meeting material desires, we keep hopping from one thing to another, a degree to a job to a better job, then another degree, another job and the cycle continues. The subject will only end up in circles with no spiritual upliftment at all, if he never identifies what he wants and what real education is, and how he can use that education to bring a positive change in human lives.

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