By Paramhansa Yogananda 

(Published in East-West Magazine, November-December 1925)

Look at the misproportioned figures on the left in the above picture — the first one with a peanut-sized head and a body as fat as a balloon, the second figure with one arm developed like that of a Sandow, but with the physique of a dwarf, and the third one with a top-heavy head fitted to a frail Lilliputian body. Would it not be a very amusing or pathetic spectacle (according to your mood) if you suddenly beheld a crowd of such people?

Behold the group on the right side of the picture. These people are normal so far as their outward physical form and appearance is [sic] concerned. But they are mentally unsound and deformed. As clothing hides scars, sores, and some deformities, so also the neat-looking garb of human flesh often covers serious mental maladies.

If you were confronted with a vast crowd of average people, well-dressed and physically healthy, and if you were gifted with the power to see their mental bodies, what a surprise and heartache you would have. Their mental bodies, with reason as the head, feeling and senses as the trunk, and Will as the feet, you would observe to be abnormal, diseased, and deformed. You would see some people with a tiny head of small sense, attached to a bulging trunk of sense-appetite. Some would possess a withered body of feeling and pep, with the arm of business faculty very much over-developed in proportion. Another perhaps has a large Socratic brain, but his trunk of sympathy and feeling is shrunken and dried up. Still another, normal in head and body, would be seen to possess a pair of impotent, paralytic feet of will and self-control. And so on.

Such multitudinous psychological deformities and pathological mental bodies, under-developed in some directions and over-developed in others, lie concealed within man, causing suffering to his soul and hampering his expression on the material plane.

It would not be out of place here to name a few of such psychological diseases so that, invisible and supreme cause of all havoc in human life though they are, they may yet be detected and brought into the distinct consciousness of the unconscious sufferers, who may learn their nature, silent growth, and symptoms, and thus guard against their secret onslaughts and all-destroying powers.

SPIRITUAL MELANCHOLIA

This disease is prevalent among those that are mentally and physically idle under the pretext of being too busy with spiritual things. These sufferers neglect the great and small duties of material life in the name of serving God, and thus invite the devil of mischief to dwell in them. They suffer from pessimism and lack of appreciation for all things good and beautiful in the material life. This is a contagious disease and all spiritual aspirants must guard themselves against it by keeping their blood of energy warm and immune with constant, healthful, worth-while activity.

SPIRITUAL INDIGESTION

This results from indiscriminately swallowing a lot of mental patented medicines in the form of pseudo-spiritual books and lessons by quack spiritual doctors. This disease kills not only the real hunger for Truth but also destroys the power to discriminate between good and bad teaching. He who eats all the time and eats anything that he can get, will not only over-eat but will eat poisonous food along with the good, thus inviting first spiritual indigestion and finally spiritual death. The long-continued over-study of all sorts of philosophical principles and treaties [sic] without ever trying to assimilate them and test them out in one’s own practical experience results in doubt, indifference, and disbelief in all spiritual laws

SOWING MENTAL “WILD OATS”

Those afflicted with this disease lead a purposeless life through having too much time or money on their hands and lacking a true aim or understanding of life. They are whim-led, doing anything that comes into their heads, filling life with cheap novels, exciting movies, or other unproductive pastimes. They do not realize their malady until some terrible shock or nervous break-down overtakes them..

MENTAL COLD OF DESPAIR

You don’t know when you are going to catch it, and suffer from its outbursts of despondency, intolerance, and impatience.

MENTAL CATARRH

This disease consists in harboring constant chronic worldly worries which are usually neglected and passively yielded to instead of being fought and routed.

PSYCHOLOGICAL INSANITY

It causes its victims to be one-sided in the pursuit of happiness. They begin to think that money is happiness, or fame is happiness, or health, or power. They sacrifice everything else-youth, reputation, peace of mind, etc., on the altar of their all-consuming ambition and learn too late that the balanced life alone, observing all the laws of nature and of God and combining activity with calmness, can bring happiness and fulfill man’s natural destiny. The sufferers of Psychological Insanity become “money-mad” or obsessed with some one ambition until their perspective on life is warped and distorted. One man, for instance, was very successful in his business and amassed a million dollars, but before he could use it, he died of a complete nervous breakdown and excessive worry. Others, to gain fame, sacrifice their self-respect and sincerity. Sufferers from this disease of one-sidedness miss their true goal and can never derive real satisfaction from the possession of their longed-for object, since man’s nature is many-sided and demands all-round development.

RELIGIOUS INSANITY

This ism-fanaticism among so-called spiritual people results from the clinging to some untested dogma or opinion of man without putting it to the test of experience, and causes paroxysms of anger and hatred against the laws of tested Truth and liberal rational thought. This religious madness leads to disobedience of God’s simple laws of mental efficiency, material prosperity, and physical health.

Physical diseases being tangible, painful, and repugnant arouse our active resistance and we seek to remedy them by exercise, diet, medicine, or some definite method of cure. But psychological diseases, though the root cause of all human woes, are not prevented or attended to promptly and are allowed to devastate and wreck people’s lives.

SPIRITUAL PRINCIPLES SHOULD BE TAUGHT

Educators, physical culturists, preachers, reformers, doctors, and law-makers will hasten the progress of true civilization only when they themselves first learn and then teach others how to harmoniously develop all the factors of life and of man’s nature. This is the true education and all-round human culture that all the world is seeking.

Educational authorities deem it impossible to teach spiritual principles in public schools because they confuse them with the variety of conflicting forms of religious faith. But if they concentrate on the universal principles of peace, love, service, tolerance, and faith that govern the spiritual life, and devise methods of practically growing such seeds in the fertile soil of the child’s mind, then the imaginary difficulty is dissolved. It is the greatest mistake to ignore this problem just because it is seemingly difficult.

Many college graduates after leaving their universities are often found with a top-heavy, book-inflated head and are unable to walk straight in the path of life due to their legs of Will and Self-control being almost paralyzed through disuse. They tumble headlong into the pit of wrong marriage, sex misuse, inordinate dollar-craving, and business failure. They had not been taught any other use of their college-sharpened mental blades of smartness except to hurt themselves. Many young men seem to take pleasure in doing those things which react to their own disadvantage and suffering in the end. Last year [1924] in America young men ranging in years from 15 to 30 stole one billion dollars by the “hold-up” method. Who was responsible? We, all of us. They also are vicious who do not prevent the spread of vice and teach others to be virtuous through their example. Schools, colleges, and society have not scientifically tried to prevent crime by eliminating its true mental cause.

Why not take the proper educational steps to avoid this annual theft of one billion dollars and use some of those millions for creating “How-to-Live-Schools,” where the art of living and a balanced development of all human faculties would be taught? We hope to have such a “How-to-Live-School” for all-round development at our Mount Washington Educational Center in Los Angeles as soon as funds are available and proper interest has been aroused for the work. In the meantime, we plan to work along such lines as far as possible.

SCHOOLS AS GARDENS

I consider properly organized schools as gardens where infant souls are grown and nurtured. The gardeners should be well-selected and cooperated with by parents and the public. The teachers should never be neglected, for they are soul-molders. The care and spiritual nourishment of the early life of a human plant usually determines its later development.

I sincerely praise the modern school system of America and its constantly improving methods of intellectual and, to a certain extent, physical training. But I cannot fail to point out its main shortcoming. It lacks spiritual background, and very badly needs to be supplemented by moral and spiritual training. The boy who belongs intellectually to Class “A”, or is a great baseball or football player, often attracts notice and is encouraged by the professors and students; but very few observe or warn him rightly if he is leading a dark Class “D” moral or spiritual life.

But where is such a school which adopts definite measures for developing the whole nature of man, teaching him the true art of life and fitting him to go through the various minor and ultimately the final examination of life? Such schools are urgently needed to teach the following arts and sciences of all-round growth:

CURRICULUM OF THE SCHOOL FOR TRAINING BALANCED SOULS

1.  Science of Body for Practical Efficiency

A. Technique of recharging the body-battery from the Cosmic Current by will.

B. Scientific relaxation of energy from the body parts for perfect rest.

C. Conservation of vital energy.

D. Bodily suppleness and agility.

E. Physical endurance (of cold, heat, strain,etc . )

F. Knowledge of what and how much to eat daily,and the value of partial fasting.

G. Regular habits of eating and sleeping.

H. Value of sitting erect and thus keeping the cerebro-spinal axis, diaphragm and lungs in proper position and action.

I. Moderation in some sport, such as swimming, tennis, baseball, etc.

J. Cleanliness—daily bath for keeping the body pores open.

K. Sex hygiene—relation of sex-control to good memory, long life, mental inspiration and matrimonial happiness.

2.  Mental Engineering

A. Art of building bridges over the river of difficulties between failure and success.

B. Psycho-physical methods of keeping the sense employees of sight, hearing, taste, touch and smell, well-trained, regulated, reliable, busy and free from rebellion, governing them with ease and obtaining their willing cooperation.

C. Art of keeping the mental life free from the bacteria of fear, despondency, melancholia, greed, lack of initiative, anger, worry, idleness and boredom.

D. Art of injecting the tonic of cheerfulness into the body.

E. Knowledge of the superiority of the mind over the body, obtained through practical experience.

F. Developing will power for carrying out plans made by noble ideas, and for resisting the lure of temptations.

G. Art of training the will so that it makes it its own business to be better without the necessity of being goaded by commands.

H. Understanding of the fundamental importance of the will throughout life.

I. Art of choosing the right life-companion and of keeping one’s matrimonial life smooth through consideration, tact, love and fidelity.

J. Art of creating spiritual children and of rearing them beautifully.

K. Art of concentration (positive and negative). Art of training the sub-conscious mind and of learning during sleep.

L. Art of keeping the mind strong and immune from diseases.

Social Arts

A. Art of regulating self-ambition so it does not conflict with the interests and requirements of society.

B. Art of converting the greed to possess into the desire to share.

C. Methods of fostering social service.  Art of inventive ability to serve mankind and lighten labor or improve on existing conditions.

D. Art of working to better laws through right education and intelligent understanding and cooperation.

E. Art of graciousness, noble bearing, and genuine interest in the problems of others.

F. Art of cooperation, and knowledge of the absolute interdependence of man’s destiny and universal laws of being.

G. Value of self-sacrifice and good will for all.

H. Law of individual life as related to social life.

I. National and international interest and patriotism,

Applied Spiritual Science

A. Law of sincerity in thought, word and deed.

B. Art of seeking personal happiness through the happiness of others.

C. Relation of man to God.

D. Art of converting self-ambition into ambition for all.

E. Art of merging the little self into the Self of All.

F. Law of protecting the wealth of inward peace from the robbers of worry, unfavorable circumstance, disease, etc.

G. Art of being supremely happy always and of making others so.

H. Freedom from all habits, and performance of right actions through discrimination and free-will.

The above Arts and Sciences are those which should be taught in a “How-to-Live School” to children whose minds are still plastic and whose forces as yet unguided into any definite channel.  Adults too may master the subjects, if they will exercise willingness and patience while the good habits are displacing the undesirable ones.

After a thorough training, the students of such a school will undergo ceaseless examination throughout life, and the various diplomas won will be health, fame, efficiency, wealth and happiness.

The issue of the final examination at the end of this earthly sojourn will only be determined by the sum total acquirements and mental and spiritual diplomas won at the various examinations throughout life.  And those successful in this last Great Examination receive a Diploma of lasting efficiency, free conscience and blessings, engraved eternally on the parchment of the Soul.  This rare reward is incorruptible by moths, beyond the reach of thieves and the eraser of Time, and is awarded for honorable entry into the Fellowship of Truth.

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“The ideal of right education for youth had always been very close to my heart.  I saw clearly the arid results of ordinary instruction aimed at the development of the body and intellect alone. Moral and spiritual values, without whose appreciation no man can approach happiness, were yet lacking in the formal curriculum.  I determined to found a school where young boys could develop to the full stature of manhood.” Paramhansa Yogananda in Autobiography of a Yogi (Original Edition) p. 24

He founded what he termed the first How-to-Live School in Dihika, India in 1917 and then moved it to Ranchi in 1918. Education for Life and the Living Wisdom Schools are based on that model.

Education for Life (EFL) is based on a balanced development of the four Tools of Maturity: the body, feelings, will, and intellect. In contrast, mainstream education with its one-pointed focus on obtaining higher test scores has increasingly emphasized the training of intellect at the expense of activities that promote growth in the other areas. It is interesting then to compare the results of these two very different approaches.

Education for Life and Testing

While we do not advocate the testing of young children, older students often express a healthy interest in knowing how they are doing academically in relation to others their age. When the EFL high school near Nevada City, California applied for accreditation in 2005, a part of the process entailed giving the students a nationally recognized, standardized test. The results have been remarkable, though not unexpected for those who are familiar with recent educational studies. In every year the students as a group have averaged in the top 10% of schools nationwide, even reaching the top 1% on one occasion. SAT scores have been equally impressive with the average EFL student scoring 1691 as compared to a national average of around 1500. How can EFL students compare so well with elite academic schools when our focus includes large amounts of time directed toward drama and music, games and outdoor activities, service projects and travel? Current educational research provides some valuable insights.

The Body and the Intellect

It seems obvious that a healthy body provides the foundation for a healthy intellect. Disease, low energy, stress, and a lack of cleanliness and order can all seriously undermine the ability to focus mentally. This relationship is clearly demonstrated in a study done in 2013 by The National Academy of Sciences.

State-mandated academic achievement testing has had the unintended consequence of reducing opportunities for children to be physically active during the school day and beyond…. Yet little evidence supports the notion that more time allocated to subject matter will translate into better test scores. Indeed, 11 of 14 correlational studies of physical activity during the school day demonstrate a positive relationship to academic performance. Overall, a rapidly growing body of work suggests that time spent engaged in physical activity is related not only to a healthier body but also to a healthier mind.

Feelings and the Intellect
Similarly, the ability to work constructively with one’s feelings can be a tremendous help when trying to maintain mental focus in the face of interpersonal tensions or inner turmoil. The advent of the term “Emotional Intelligence” in 1995, produced a wave of research authenticating the importance of social and emotional growth. A key report by J. Payton et al looked at an array of data taken from 317 studies involving 324,303 students. Their conclusion follows.

SEL [Social and Emotional Learning] programming improved students’ academic performance by 11 to 17 percentile points across the three reviews, indicating that they offer students a practical educational benefit…. Although some educators argue against implementing this type of holistic programming because it takes valuable time away from core academic material, our findings suggest that SEL programming not only does not detract from academic performance but actually increases students’ performance on standardized tests and grades”.

Will and the Intellect
The connection between the will and intellect is evident in the value of such qualities as perseverance, concentration, and initiative. In her book “The Willpower Instinct”, Stanford University psychologist Kelly McGonigal Ph.D surveyed the results of over 200 studies in this area.

People who have strong willpower are better off – i.e. better control of their attention, emotions, and actions. They are happier and healthier. Their relationships are more satisfying and last longer. They make more money and go further in their careers. They are better able to manage stress, deal with conflict, and overcome adversity. They live longer. Self-control is a better predictor of academic success than IQ. It’s a stronger determinant of effective leadership than charisma. It’s more important for marital harmony than empathy.

Conclusion and Prediction
It may be taking awhile, but educators are gradually acknowledging that a one-sided emphasis on the intellect is counterproductive. Even the “winners” of this approach are adversely affected. In November of 2011, NBC interviewed an administrator at Peking University High School in Shanghai, the top school worldwide as measured by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, but also a school where students put in 12 hours of study per day including weekends. “Test taking is damaging to students’ creativity, critical thinking skills and, in general, China’s ability to compete in the world. It can make students very narrow-minded. In the 21st century, China needs the creative types its education system isn’t producing.”

For over 40 years, Education for Life has pioneered an approach that emphasizes cultivating the intellect in conjunction with the body, feelings, and will. Modern research shows that the future of education around the world lies with schools that can successfully implement this kind of integrated, holistic approach.

Test Scores
A question that often comes up in discussing Education for Life with newcomers is, “How does this approach affect academic achievement, especially as measured by standardized tests”. The answer often surprises people.

The Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) is the principle tool for judging high school achievement in the United States. The following table shows the average scores of our graduating students compared to average national scores.

National Averages EFL School Averages
Critical Reading 497 565
Mathematics 514 579
Writing 489 547
Total 1500 1691

The SAT has withstood the misguided notion current in many educational circles that student achievement can be measured by the number of facts and formulas that have been retained. As an example high scores on the current STAR test in California depend on a student’s knowledge of the Schlieffen Plan, the Tennis Court Oath, and other obscure data that require a fixed curriculum and massive amounts of spirit-deadening memorization to assimilate. Students in an EFL school with an expansive, student-centered curriculum would not do well on these tests.

Other tests, like the SAT however, approach achievement from the more plausible perspective that student progress is better measured in such areas as reading comprehension, mathematical reasoning, and writing skills. We utilized one of these tests, The Iowa Test of Educational Development (ITED), with our students. The results are listed below in percentile ranks that show how our students compared with other schools. A ranking in the 90th percentile means they scored in the top 10% nationally.

Subject 2005 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
Vocabulary 99 87 89 96 97 99 99 81  95
Reading Comprehension 93 93 96 95 93 99 99 86  91
Language 94 85 92 79 91 96 99 94  94
Math Concepts & Problems 97 91 95 96 85 97 99 96  91
Computation 88 82 61 80 84 71 96 92  85
Total Percentile Score 96 90 94 93 93 98 99 94  91

These scores demonstrate the effectiveness of a holistic approach like Education for Life even in more traditional areas of student achievement. For a fuller discussion of this topic, see the article on “Organic Education”.

Education for Life High School Graduates

EFL graduates are accepted to the colleges they choose. For example,our 2013 senior class were accepted at the following colleges and universities: UC Merced, UC Davis, St Mary’s, Lewis and Clark, Humboldt State, Reed, Linfield, Whitman, Puget Sound, Maharishi University of Management, and Ananda College of Living Wisdom.