University and spirituality
Walking two paths at once
Published: Wednesday, September 5, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, September 5, 2012 16:09
If you have observed the atmosphere at the end of a large group class, you know what I’m talking about. When you pay attention to all the scattering noises just before a class gets out, you can hear the students packing and getting ready to leave. Interestingly for me, these noises seem to give nonverbal cues to the instructor that the class should be ended. Everyone seems to be in a hurry, but where are they all going?
One can technically answer this question by saying that the students have various duties and affairs to be taken care of, such as going to another class, meeting a friend, eating lunch etc. But in a larger context, I think that the question of “where are we going?” is left unanswered. What I’m arguing is that neither our education system nor our freedom of choice is encouraging us to address the big philosophical questions in our lives. I don’t argue for a moment that the knowledge and skills given to us from a university is useless. But I do feel that many of us are not spiritually driven in the lives that we spend here. We are trying to fulfill our duties and we want to get things done. Eventually we want to find a job somewhere when the university chapter is closed.
In our education system, it seems to me that following a spiritual path is discouraged. No one that I know has ever told me that they want to become a monk or nun after finishing their degrees; maybe there are people like that but I haven’t met any. Also, I don’t know about any majors that are designed to help students to become good spiritual or religious leaders. In a general sense, I have felt it is impractical to even speak about following a spiritual path after my graduation.
What I define as a spiritual path is struggling and seeking to find and observe the true nature of things. As college students, we may scientifically learn the chemical reactions of a flower in the presence of sun, but at the same time we should admire the aroma of the flower and maybe question the purpose of its existence.
For those who think the spirituality in university doesn’t make sense, let me remind you of the ancient Greeks. Ancient Greek philosopher Plato started universities such as The Academy of Athens to learn and discuss prevalent philosophical and spiritual ideas. University should not be a training college that helps students to excel at something. Nor should it function as an agency that would find jobs for us. University should be a place where people come to find a new way of life. University should be a place where people reform societies and find new spiritual paths.
So what are my suggestions for you? Quit classes, stop doing homework or even quit university and become hermits? My suggestions are none of these. I propose that you to be more observant, spiritual, philosophical, open minded and always raise the question, “Where am I going in life?”
Samantha is a junior majoring in Journalism.