Essential skills for life goals

Acharya Prafulla Chandra Ray with his efforts through Banyatran Samiti trained students in the spirit of social service

Swami Vivekananda focused on spirituality, concentration, service, culture, character and science as pillars of education

Sri Aurobindo focused on evolution of consciousness

Satis Chandra Mukherjee focused on self-reliance and self-rule in the field of national education

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi with his Nai Talim or Education for life emphasized on self-education through productive works or vocations

Rabindranath Tagore in his establishment of Shantiniketan focused on living close to and in harmony with nature

Sri Satya Saibaba believed that education is for life and living; and the end of education is character

Swami Chinmayananda stressed upon nationalistic feelings and vedantic study

All these primary influencers of modern education in India have strived in their own way to revitalise the ancient system of education that was prevalent in the country before the introduction of Macaulay’s system. They all had one common objective of integrating the ancient education values and system with modern needs to build a strong, moral and self-confident nation based on the principles of non-violence and self-reliance.

Self-Reliance is the key which helps one to achieve life’s four primary goals – Happiness, Security, Pleasure and Harmony. Self reliance can be attained by integrating the internal (Physical, Vital, Mental and Intellectual) faculties first and then extending it to the world around. Spiritual outlook helps realise ourselves as an integral part in the world and develop the feeling of oneness, which in turn acts as an important tool to build a harmonious relationship in the Society and build a successful Career.

Thus we may classify the following as the faculties in which skills have to be nurtured and evolved from childhood at two different levels:

Individual: Physical, Vital, Mental, Intellectual and Spiritual

Inter-personal: Social, Finance and Career

Physical: The physical body should be healthy and strong, agile, graceful and fit enough to carry out all the tasks in life. This should be the overall ideal for physical education. IOER (Input-Output-Exercise-Rest) is the key principle in developing physical faculty

Vital: The vital element refers to the life-energy which is primarily enhanced and controlled through breathing and breath related practices. This domain is crucial as it helps in effectively managing the physical, mental and intellectual domains acting as a link between the gross and subtle body.

Mental and Emotional: The mental domain comprises of the four aspects – chitta (memory), manas (mind), buddhi (gross intellect) and ahankara (self-image). Development of concentration, awareness and management of thoughts & emotions is the aim in developing mental domain. This domain effectively enhances the following life-skills identified by UN – Coping with stress, Coping with emotions.

Intellect: By developed intellect, we refer to one’s discriminating capacity / intelligence. Such a person is intelligent, who is able to look at people, things and situations dispassionately, have the right perspective and take balanced decisions in handling the day-to-day challenges of life. This domain addresses the life-skills – creative thinking, critical thinking, decision-making and problem solving as mentioned by UN.

Awareness of one’s strengths and weaknesses in the above four domains – physical, vital, mental and intellectual encompasses the self-awareness, a life-skill described by UN. It is with self-awareness one can develop self-reliance and have harmonious interaction with the world.

Spiritual: Spiritual education acts as an effective bridge for individuals to have complete awareness of oneself vis-à-vis, the relationship with the environment – other living and non-living beings. A spiritually conscious person is aware of close interaction, relationship and oneness with the world. This outlook acts as a bridge to build harmonious relationships in the society making one socially responsible. This leads us to the sixth domain in life-skill development – the social domain.

Social: In a social perspective, an individual should develop the three social life-skills mentioned by UN – effective communication, empathy and interpersonal relationship.

Apart from these three basic skills, a socially responsible citizen should also have right knowledge about one’s country. One should be a proud citizen and play a positive role in nation building. In this process one need to remember the responsibility towards the family, the basic unit of the nation.

One should also be responsible towards the environment – the five elements (air, water, earth, fire and space) which forms the basis of our life and animals without whom the ecological balance is not complete.

A clear understanding and the role of the nation vis-à-vis global community is essential to be a socially responsible citizen

Finance and Career: A person with self-awareness, spiritual outlook and social responsibility can be happy in the 21st century capital driven global economy if only one has the necessary skills to handle the capital, meaning the finance; and the skills to carefully navigate the career in the fast changing world. Finance and career planning forms the seventh element of life-skill education.  Irrespective of the career path, one needs to have a proper understanding of finance, money and wealth. One need to give them the right place and be in a place to manage and control them than become a puppet in its hands.

To Conclude…

A Happy and successful individual of 21st century is one, who pursues the four primary goals – security (wealth), rightful pleasures, a harmonious and happy life.

The Essential Life-skills which help in this process are those that make one physically fit, vitally active, mentally strong, intellectually sharp, socially aware, spiritually conscious and financial & career-wise.

We shall discuss each domain and skills to develop the same in detail in future posts.

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