Creative Education
2012. Vol.3, No.1, 10-15
Published Online February 2012 in SciRes (
Copyright © 2012 SciRes.
Visionaries from the East as Guiding Principles for
Western Education
Stephen R. White1, John Janowiak2
1Department of L eadership & Educational S t u d ies, Appalachian State University, Boone, USA
2Department of Curriculum & Instruction, Appalachian State Univ ersity, Boone, USA
Received October 30th, 2011; revised November 24th, 2011; accepted December 10th, 2011
Our analysis of western education is not a “how to” prescription. It is a meaningful and reflective theo-
retical position as to “what is” the meaning of education, to us. Thus this work is a unique look at the col-
laboration as a constructive “process,” theoretically an endeavor of reflection, over that of a detailed
pragmatic narration of education. Therefore, we believe, it is in spirit of the act of collaboration as process
of knowledge revelation. Given this our analysis does not address each and every question posed, specifi-
cally, but is a work that sheds light and illuminates the process of education and in doing so does cast a
pragmatic shadow over all the questions of interest for this issue. In short, we believe that this work of
ours is visionary in scope and relevance.
Keywords: Western Education; Eastern Principles; Sri Aurobindo; Paramahansa Yoganada
Western Education
The integral knowledge admits the valid truth of all views of
existence, valid in their own field, but seeks to get rid of their
limitations and negations and to harmonize and reconcile these
partial truths in a larger truth… It is not by “thinking out” the
entire reality, but by a change of consciousness that one can
pass from the ignorance to the Knowledge—the Knowledge by
which we can become what we know (Dalal, 2001: p. 3).
—Indian Philosopher, Sri Ghose Aurobindo (1872-1950)
The Infusion of Spirituality into Education
A major challenge for educators today is to construct vision-
ary and novel ideas necessary to understand the complexity of
evolving new personal and social realities. Educational phi-
losopher James Moffett observed (1994).
Evolution seems to press forward with a will of its own that
gives history a direction no government ever planned. We must
now become conscious of this direction and try to interpret its
import for the future society… The more we take evolution into
our own hands, the less destructive it needs to be. By basing
education on the past we fight evolution and force it to force us,
through extremity (p. 15).
The integration of spirituality and metaphysics has become an
issue of growing debate in the curriculum of higher education.
This development illuminates what appears to be a shift back
toward the exploration of spiritual concerns submerged since
the advent of scientific positivisms and the effort to reduce, if
not eradicate, the role of spirituality in education (Bertrand,
2003; Kessler, 2000; Moffett, 1994; Palmer, 1999). Many edu-
cational theorists believe that spirituality is a basic human inner
drive, a cognitive energy having multiple forms of expression,
with religion being only one. The thinking is that spiritually
grounded learners are vibrant thinkers because the soul is har-
monious with the mind. Therefore the educational process should
focus on the development of the whole person to make mean-
ingful intellectual connections between the social life-world
“without” as well as their psyche soulful life-world “within.”
As such, educators are obligated to honor spirituality as part of
learners’ developmental process (Miller & Nakagawa, 2002;
Glazer, 1994; Sinetar, 2000).
Recently a group of theorists have espoused spirituality as
being an integral part of postsecondary education. They pro-
claim that the history of Western postsecondary education re-
veals that the profession was originally deeply rooted in spiri-
tual development. Their call is for a renewed reconciliation
between spirituality and intellectuality. They believe that aca-
demics can accomplish this through consciously integrating
spiritual elements into reflectively constructed educational pro-
grams and learning experiences. The challenge today for lead-
ership in education is to recover its spiritual heritage and infuse
it back into the learning process (English, Fenwick, & Parsons,
The goal of education is to develop the objective rational in-
tellect and to nurture the subjective domain of the mind. It is
from the subjective intellect that a sense of wonder emerges
that is integrated with the objective domain and rational inquiry.
An adherence to subjective inner exploration of learners as part
of their intellectual development constitutes learning as a spiri-
tual journey, which is in essence the very soul of education
(Palmer, 1993). Our belief is that this challenge can be partially
addressed by looking to the East into the philosophies and
teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda and Sri Aurobindo.
A Vision from the East: Yogananda’s
“God is simple. Everything else is complex.”
—P. Yogananda
Paramahansa Yogananda (1893-1952) was born Mukunda
Lal Ghosh in Gorakhpur, India, into an affluent Bengali family.
From his earliest years, the depth of his awareness and experi-
ence of spirituality was noteworthy. In his youth, he sought out
many of India’s sages and saints, in search of an illumined
teacher to guide him in his spiritual quest, which he later re-
counted in his book Autobiography of a Yogi. The Autobiogra-
phy has been in continuous publication since 1946 and is con-
sidered a modern spiritual classic. The book has been translated
into eighteen languages and is used as a text and reference work
in numerous colleges and universities.
After Yogananda graduated from Calcutta University in 1915,
he took formal vows as a monk of India’s mona sti c Swa mi Order,
at which time he received the name Yogananda (signifying
bliss, ananda, through divine union, yoga). In 1917, Yogananda
began his life’s work with the founding of a “how-to-live” school
for boys, where modern educational methods were combined
with yoga and spirituality. In 1920, he founded the Self-Reali-
zation Fellowship (SRF) for the purpose of disseminating his
teachings and for the next 32 years he lived and taught in the West.
Yogananda emphasized the underlying unity of the world’s
great religions, and taught universally applicable methods for
attaining self-realization defined as, “The knowing, in body,
mind, and soul, that we are one with the omnipresence of God;
that we do not have to pray that it come to us, that we are not
merely near it at all times, but that God’s omnipresence is our
omnipresence; that we are just as much a part of Him now as
we ever will be. All we have to do is improve our knowing”
(Yogananda, 1997b: p. 434).
To serious students of hi s teachings Yogananda introduced the
meditation techniques of Kriya Yoga, part of a spiritual science
originating millenniums ago in India, which had been lost in the
Dark Age s and revive d in mode rn times by his lineage of e nl i gh t -
ened teachers. Kriya Yoga is a technique of meditation whereby
the mind withdraws from sensory information and connects to
the astral centers (charkas) in the central nervous system en-
couraging the development of spiritual consciousness. Practi-
tioners of Kriya Yoga learn the yoga science of pranayama
(conscious control of the life energy that activates and sustains
life in the body) and redirect kundalini to consciously discon-
nect the mind and life functions and sensory perceptions that tie
humans to body consciousness. According to Yogananda, pra-
nayama thus “frees man’s consciousness to commune with
Central to Paramahansa Yogananda’s teachings, which em-
body a complete philosophy and way of life, are scientific tech-
niques of concentration and meditation that lead to the direct
personal experience of Spirit. These yoga methods quiet body
and mind, and make it possible to withdraw one’s energy and
attention from the usual turbulence of thoughts, emotions, and
sensory perceptions.
From Quan tum to Consci ousness
According to Yogananda, “Man thinks of his body as com-
pact, solid matter; but science now defines the body as waves of
electromagnetic energy. Matter has been dissolved down to pho-
tons. But what is the difference between light and conscious-
ness; and what is the relation of consciousness and the body?
The decipherment of that arcanum of cosmic being is the prin-
cipal challenge confronting future generations of broadened
scientific minds (Yogananda, 2004: p. 1508).
Consistent with today’s quantum theorists, Yogananda ex-
plained that modern science will be able to manipulate the sub-
tle electromagnetic constitution of man to correct most any
medical condition in ways that would seem almost miraculous
today. He maintained that in the future, “healing will be ef-
fected more and more by use of various types of light rays.”
Science has discovered that matter/energy does not exist with
any certainty in definite places, but rather shows “tendencies”
to exist (i.e. the “Uncertainty Principle”). Even more intriguing
is the notion that the existence of an observer is fundamental to
the existence of the Universe—a concept known as “The Ob-
server Effect”—implying that the Universe is essentially a
product of consciousness (i.e. the Mind of God) (Bohm, 1987).
In support of Bohm’s and Planck’s substantive contributions to
quantum physics, Yogananda stated:
Light is what we are made of—not gross physical light, but
the finer spiritualized light of prana, intelligent life energy. That
light is the real essence of everything. This earth is not “ea rt h” a s
you see it; it is light. But you cannot perceive that until you
know the underlying astral world (Yogananda, 2010: p. 11).
In ordinary consciousness man experiences three states: wak-
ing consciousness, sleeping consciousness, and dreaming con-
sciousness. But, according to Paramahansa Yogananda and Ghose
Aurobindo, humans typically do not experience the supercon-
sciousness of the soul unless it is experienced in meditation.
“As mortal man is con scious throughout his body, so the Chri st-
man is conscious throughout the universe, which he feels as his
body. Thought is human consciousness in vibration. Human
consciousness is delimited God-consciousness in vibration. In
the process of thought man’s consciousness vibrates. Through
psychophysical techniques of yoga one can regain mastery of
his mind, stilling the restless thought vibrations of human con-
sciousness and entering the ecstasy of God-Consciousness”
(Yogananda, 2004: p. 1581).
As a consequence of spiritual development one attains “a
state wherein the fixed consciousness generated from contact
with matter vanishes. Finite objects are seen as naught but im-
prisoned consciousness; and the formerly rigid differentiations
of matter are experienced as relativities of thought, all interre-
lated in the preeminent, unifying Divine Intelligence from which
they flow” (Yogananda, 2004: p. 224).
“I regard consciousness as fundamental,” said Max Planck,
the father of quantum physics. “I regard matter as derivative
from consciousness. We cannot get behind consciousness. Eve-
rything that we talk about, everything that we regard as existing,
postulates consciousness” (Planck, 1937).
Yogananda was not an intellectual theorist. He believed that
the key to the cosmic conundrum is found not in the logical
reasoning of the mind, but in the all-knowing intuition of the
soul, the true self. He posited that while the theoretically wise
argue the contradictions of theology, “the secreti ve universe will
go on mysteriously spawning its paradoxes without vouchsafing
an answer to intellectual queries about its inexplicable conduct.”
1Kundalini in yoga science refers to the powerful current of creative life
energy residing in a subtle coiled passageway at the base of the spine. In
ordinary waking consciousness, the body’s life force flows from the brain
down the spine and out through this coiled kundalini passage, enlivening the
physical body and tying the astral and causal bodies and indwelling soul to
the mortal form. In the elevated states of consciousness that are the goal o
meditation, the kundalina energy is reversed to flow back up the spine to
awaken the dormant spiritual faculties in the cerebrospinal centers (chakras).
A Vision from the East: Sri Aurobindo’s
Life Divine
“To hope for a true change of human life without a change of
Copyright © 2012 SciRes. 11
human nature is an irrational and unspiritual proposition.”
—Sri Aurobindo
Ghose Aurobindo (1872-1950) was an avant-garde intellec-
tual. He sought to philosophically reconcile Western scientific
rationalism with Eastern transcendental metaphysics into a
holistic narrative of reality (Chaturvedi, 2002; Dalal, 2001; Mc-
Greal, 1995).
Born in Calcutta India, Aurobindo was educated at Cam-
bridge University in Great Britain. He was profoundly influ-
enced by Western thought: empirical pragmatism, logical ra-
tionalism and romantic idealism. Charles Darwin’s evolution-
ary theory, French intellectual Henri Bergson’s philosophy of
cognitive evolution, and German philosopher G. F. W Hegel’s
idea of dialectical social evolution made a significant impres-
sion on his world-view. The idea of human evolution as per-
petual motion became the foundation of his sociological theo-
ries, political ideology and educational thought (Bruteua, 1971,
1974; Dalal, 2001; Purani, 2001; Susai, 1993).
After graduation from Cambridge, Aurobindo returned to In-
dia. There he became politically active in the nation’s struggle
for independence from British imperialism. He became ex-
traordinary political statesmen and a revolutionary firebrand in
the people’s struggle for national liberation. At the time, the
British authorities labeled him as the most dangerous revolu-
tionary in India. Eventually he was captured and charged for
sedition, and imprisoned to solitary confinement. However he
was not convicted by the British ruled court of the charges
(Chaudhuri, 2002; Gandhi, 1992; Heehs, 1989; Varma, 1998).
While confined to incarceration and solitude, he experienced
an overpowering spiritual transformation. He claimed to have
experienced a Divine presence “as all beings and all that is”.
After this experience, he now visualized all of reality as being
unified. Thereafter Aurobindo immersed himself in the study of
Hindu philosophy. The Eastern notion of metaphysical monism,
a non-dualistic Absolutely Reality that exists behind empirical
world of physical appearance, was infused throughout his
thought (Bruteua, 1974; Chaturvedi, 2002; Feys, 1977; Vrek-
hem, 1998).
Aurobindo viewed himself as a spiritual revolutionary advo-
cating a new politics of consciousness. Because of humankind’s
unique evolution as a species, we are collective custodians and
guardians of the world. He set out to see through the empirical
world and realize the ultimate unification of being behind this
outward appearance. He stated that it is easier to experience the
finite being of the real world but it is more difficult to see the
infinite unification of being. From this realization; Aurobindo
began writing volumes of scholarly works on social issues and
while philosophically developing a system of metaphysical
idealism—Ultimacy. In time, his fellow countrymen affection-
ately conferred upon him the honorific title of “Sri” Aurobindo
(The term “Sri” is from the Sanskrit language, a Hindu honor-
ific title meaning—“Master”) (Gandhi, 1992; Heehs, 1999:
Price, 1977; Singh, 1989).
Aurobindo became convinced that Hindu spirituality, medi-
tative yoga, would augment his political vision as reflective
social action. Political thought, social work, and the quest for
self-realization are interconnected human endeavors. He termed
this notion as Integral Yoga. Integral Yoga seeks to change of
our inner self and outer life as a manifestation of a higher level
of consciousness (Aurobindo, 1971, 1985a, 1985b, 1990, 1998a;
Kluback, 2003).
In many respects, his yogic method is a reaction to unbridled
eastern mysticism and western hyper rationalism. It is a synthe-
sis of Western psychology, which focuses on the outer person-
ality and social behavior, with the spiritual psychology of the
East, which focuses on the inner person and consciousness.
Integral yoga is not a specific physical or psychological proce-
dure but it is to consciously surrender to universal evolutionary
energy. This numinous evolutionary energy causes increasing
levels of personal involution, spiritual consciousness, which is
necessary for future social progress. Integral Yoga causes a
transformation of the psyche-world within observable as a
radical shift in the social life-world without. An understanding
of his theory of integral yoga is essential to comprehending and
futuristic idealism of Ultimacy2 (Aurobindo, 1993; 1998b; Da-
lal, 2003; Feys, 1977; Overzee, 1992; Rishabachand, 1993; Su-
sai, 1993; Vrekehm, 1998; Wygant, 2001).
Aurobindo states (Chaturvedi, 2002):
The way of yoga must be a living thing not a mental [psy-
chological] principal or a set [physical] method to be struck to
against all necessary variations… A spiritual evolution, an evo-
lution of consciousness in matter is a contrast developing
self-formation till the form can reveal the indwelling spirit…
the central significant motive of the terrestrial existence (pp.
In 1947, after the emancipation of India, Aurobindo devoted
himself entirely, along with his soul mate and social comrade
the French mystic Mirra Alfassa (referred to as The Mother, a
Hindu honorific title) to liberate the whole of humanity socially
and spiritually by advancing conscious transformation and ad-
vancing the construction of a new social reality of global unity
(Aurobindo, 1998a; Bruteau, 1974; Dalal, 2001).
Aurobindo’s philosophical magnum opus is The life divine
(1974a) while The future evolution of man (1974b) is his most
ambitious sociological analysis. These works are a theoretical
synthesis of Western evolutionary thought and Neo-Hinduism.
They provide a comprehensive narrative of the relationship
between psyche involution and social evolution (Bruteau, 1974;
McGreal, 1995; Susai, 1993; Zaehner, 1971).
Transcending the Levels of Consciousness
Consistent with Eastern philosophy, Aurobindo asserted that
planetary evolution has resulted in distinctive earthly realms of
existence. Each earthly realm has a discernable evolutionary
direction and elevated appearance of the psyche. He identifies
four distinct yet unified earthly realms with a corresponding
reality: Material realm (physical reality), life realm (biological
reality), intellec tual re alm (psy che-social real ity), and metaphysical
realm (higher consciousness-spi ri tual reality ) (Aur obindo, 19 98b;
Bruteau, 1974; Combs, 1996; Vrekhem, 1998)
He describes how matter evolved into life resulting ulti-
mately in the emergence of the human specie with an elevated
level of consciousness. With the advent of the human species a
more complex process of evolution was set in motion. Because
2Aurobindo explained that an effective motive for social action cannot
emerge without a corresponding “Ultimate Ideas of Purpose.” To educate
towards the construction of a future social order that is a greater state o
existence than our present social order without an idea of ultimate meaning
is like putting the cart before the horse. Ideas of ultimacy provide learners
with a meaningful mental model of the larger Self that can result in collec-
tive social action. Holistic education is the proper theoretical forum from
which to promote idealis m o f u lt i mate mea ning ( Forbes, 200 3: pp. 18-22).
Copyright © 2012 SciRes.
evolution is in perpetual motion, it follows that the human spe-
cie cannot be the end point of previous evolutionary movement
but is a unique transitional stage (Aurobindo, 1974a, 1974b,
1998a, 1998b; Combs, 1996; Dalal, 2001, 2003; McGreal, 1995;
Vrekehm, 1998).
Aurobindo theorizes that there has evolved seven evolution-
ary states of mind (psyche) with distinctive degree of con-
sciousness more elevated than the previous level: Physical mind
is the most basic state of the brain producing elemental con-
sciousness. Vital mind is the state of life mind with a level of
consciousness associated with meta-cognition and affective
modes of thinking. Higher mind (a transitional state) is the state
of mind resulting in the first level of elevated consciousness. It
is a transitional state between base biological mind and that of
reflective knowing (higher consciousness). Illuminated mind is
a more complex level of consciousness that has characteristics
of intuitive knowing and producing hyper-visionary thinking.
Intuitive mind represents a distinct state of mind and level of
consciousness empowered by an astute awareness of Absolute
Reality. This degree of consciousness is found manifested in
extraordinary persons endowed with innovative insights and a
novel sense of relevance regarding the future human evolution.
Over mind (a transitional state) is a state of mind characterized
by a transcendental level of consciousness. It is the cognitive
ability for integrative thinking, unitary knowing and mystical
Accordingly, in our age a few individuals have emerged re-
vealing this level of evolution. They are the pathfinders for
future human evolution and eventual global-unity. Supramind
(i.e., Supermind) is a future state of mind, the highest state of
psyche, and is a total transformation of the human specie into a
new breed of life and mind. While all the previous levels of
minds are supported solely by physical and psyche realms of
realities. Supramind is grounded upon Absolute Reality, the
Life Divine. Supramind is the Life Divine fully manifested on
Earth. He defines the Supramind as the human psyche bathed in
divine energy that totally transforms consciousness and em-
powers individuals to reconstruct human relations into a social
solidarity constructing a collective new global unity (Aurobindo,
1974a, 1974b, 1985b, 1991, 199 8a, 1998c; Bru te au , 1971, 1974;
Combs, 1996; McGreal, 1995; Mukherjee, 1990; Satprem, 1984,
1985; Vrekehm, 1998).
He writes (1974a):
The animal is the living laboratory of the evolutionary urge,
illuminating and change must take up and re-create the whole
being, mind, life, and body: it must not be only an inner ex-
perience of the divinity but a remodeling of both the inner and
outer existence by its power; it must take form not only in the
life of the individual but as a collective life of Gnostic beings
[Supermen] (p. 68) (Table 1).
Aurobindo declares that the notion of Life Divine is not a
theory of an other worldly reality, strictly an esoteric idealism.
Life Divine is a tangible energy infusing ever-higher expres-
sions of consciousness bringing about greater evolutionary
unfolding through humankind into the world. Supramind results
in individuals becoming fully aware of their uniqueness as well
as their psyche and social unification with others without per-
ceived contradictions between the two. The process of involu-
tion of Life Divine on planet Earth is resulting in the birth of a
new species, a “Gnostic being” or a being of knowledge, en-
dowed with the capacity to steer future social evolution toward
a state of global-unity (Aurobindo, 1985b, 1991, 1998a, 1998b,
1998c; Mukherjee, 1990; Satprem, 1984; Vrekehm, 1998).
Thus, for Aurobindo, humankind is currently in movement
toward a new stage of evolution is resulting in an increasing
number of individuals’ experiencing a deeper degree of con-
sciousness desiring a unifying global evolution. Accordingly,
our age is witnessing the advent of a new and novel social
life-world being born that will become vastly more advanced
than our stage of existence. The involution of divine spirit into
individual’s psyche development is driving societies toward
increasingly advanced levels of collective consciousness. So-
cieties will continue to evolve toward greater interaction and
thus converge amongst themselves constructing higher degrees
of collective consciousnesses and greater social globalization
The appearance of mind and body on earth makes a critical
step, a deceive change in the course of evolution. There is an
evolution of the consciousness behind the evolution of the spe-
cies and this spiritual evolution must end in a realization, indi-
vidual and collective, on the Earth. Man is a transitional being
who has seen that there can be a higher status of consciousness
than his own. …the being has become awake and aware of
himself; there has been manifest in mind its will to develop, to
grow in knowledge, to deepen the inner and widen the outer
existence to increase the capacities of nature. Man has seen that
there can be higher states of existence than his own. For truth
and knowledge is an idle gleam if knowledge bring not power
to change the world (p. 51).
Global Education
The convergence of humanity into an intensified global-unity
will not result in an impersonal society of estranged individuals
but will actually unite individuals. The transformation of con-
sciousness will result in persons becoming free of self-inter-
ested ego driven individualism through becoming reflectively
aware of their own psyche development within the context of
others experiencing the same process. He theorized that hu-
mankind has entered a new age of accelerated personal involu-
tion and social evolution on a global scale. The consequence is
that the transformation of an individual’s self-consciousness is
perpetuated through the intensification of social interaction
with others who are experiencing the same evolutionary pro0
gression. A harmonized collectivity of consciousness, the Su-
pramind creating a New Human Specie, is emerging. The im-
mediate future of humankind can be understood as the collec-
Table 1.
Aurobindoian Vison of P s yche/Social Evolution.
Absolute Reality—Supramind
(Evolution of Collective Global Consciousn ess)
Over-Mind (transitional evolutionary state)
Metaphysical Realm
(Higher consc i ousness/spiritual) Intuitive Mind
Intellectual Realm
(Psyche-social) Illuminated Mi nd
Higher Mind (transitional evolutionary state)
Life Realm
(Biological) Vital Mind
Material Realm
(Physical) Physical Mind
Copyright © 2012 SciRes. 13
tive transformation of humankind occurring on the social and
individual leve l s (1974b, 1985a, 1991).
Aurobindo doggedly believed that human progress and global
convergence is occurring despite persistent international socio-
economic strife and political conflict. These set backs are only
evolutionary birth pangs of a coming new age of global coop-
eration and planetary consciousness (1991, 1998a, 1998b). The
“Ultimate” future of human evolution is not merely an individ-
ual affair but a communal one. The community exists by the
individual, not vice versa and a perfected community can exit
only if the members are perfected. The community exists to
serve the individual but is the duty of the individual to sacrifice
themselves for the sake of the community. Consequently he
visualizes a future state of existence that will embrace us into a
new collective social reality of ultimacy regarding global-con-
sciousness (Aurobindo, 1974; Bruteau, 1971).
Relevance of Yogananda and Aurobindo’s
Thought as Core Principles for
Western Education
“The most important question for curriculum is ‘How can
school become more like life?’” —P. Yogananda
“The Divine Truth is greater than any religion or creed or
scripture or idea or philosophy.” —Sri Aurobindo
The great American horticulturalist Luther Burbank once wrote
that the “idea of right education is plain commonsense, free
from all mysticism and non-practicality”. In addition to their
close friendship, Yogananda and Burbank shared similar edu-
cational philosophies. Burbank endorsed spiritual training for
educators claiming that:
“It is ideal for training and harmonizing man’s physical,
mental, and spiritual natures …”
Burbank further suggested that Americans establish,
“How-to-Live” schools throughout the world, wherein edu-
cation will not confine itself to intellectual development alone,
but also training of the body, will, and feelings. Through a sys-
tem of physical, mental, and spiritual unfoldment by simple and
scientific methods of concentration and meditation, most of the
complex problems of life may be solved” (Yogananda, 1997a: p.
Yogananda’s school for boys in Dihika, West Bengal com-
bined modern educational techniques with yoga training and
spiritual ideals. This school would later become Yogoda Satsanga
Society of India, the Indian branch of Yogananda’s American
Students who are taught that humans are merely “higher ani-
mals,” according to Yogananda may be more prone to developing
atheistic values and avoid attempts to investigate spiritual prac-
tices. Emerson observed, “That only which we have within, can
we see without. If we meet no gods, it is because we harbor
none”. One who imagines their animal nature to be the only
reality, may be more likely to be cut off from spiritual aspira-
According to Eastern philosophy, educational systems that
do not present Spirit as the central fact of human existence offer
avidya, or false knowledge (Yogananda, 1997a: p. 207). Among
the Eastern philosophical tenets, the ideal of education includes
moral and spiritual values within the formal curriculum, with-
out whose appreciation no student can approach feelings of
great happiness, especially of a spiritual nature. According to
Yogananda (1997a: p. 303), “true educat ion is not pumped an d
crammed in from outward sources, but aids in bringing to the
surface the infinite hoard of wisdom within.”
Yogananda’s philosophy is an attempt to rationally and sys-
tematically re-vision the art and science of teaching and learn-
ing as consciousness within Eastern perspectives of metaphys-
ics synthesized with science. Both men’s vision of constructiv-
ist consciousness is remarkable in scope. The suggestion here is
that a synthesis of Yogananda’s and Aurobindo’s thought pro-
vides common core principles to understand the “what is” the
process of education:
The expansion of consciousness, on both the individual and
collective level, has now empowered humankind to dis-
cover and acquire deeper knowled g e .
The next stage of social evolution demands cooperative
action and solidarity on the part of humankind, at all levels.
What must proceed through collaboration are knowledge
construction and the consciousness for reconstructing soci-
ety and advancing knowledge then could be accomplished
on just an individual segregated means.
Both individuals argue that in the past humankind has sought
perfecting its environment through social institutions. But it is
only by the involution of our individual consciousness, shared
in collaboration as collective consciousness and mind, that ge-
nuine social transformation can be attained. Education is in the
midst of this transformative process. The challenge for all edu-
cators today is to more fully participate in this transformation
by fostering collective academic collaboration and integrative
intellectual cooperation (Yogananda, 1997, 2001, 2004).
Accepting Yogananda and Aurodindo’s postulation, educat-
ing to a positive future inherently requires academic collabora-
tion. Humankind must become educated of the possibility of its
own conscious transformation and social evolution. We in
higher education are its agents and models of such a level of
collaboration. In doing so, we can potentially overcome the
barriers that fragment humankind today with the potential of
stalling future evolutionary movement. We must educate to-
ward the future with a new vision that we are responsible for
rational political, social and economic through deeply reflecting
on the process of collaboration in academia (Bruteau, 1974;
Cowell, 2001).
For us, this statement summarizes nicely how we perceive
education today. It is for us the cooperative sharing of our
minds and thoughts resulting in higher levels of knowing and
knowledge. We do seek to be objective and pragmatic yet being
subjectively aware of others, being rational yet emotive as we
become conscious that there is not one best way to address
problems as well as espousing our own thoughts. Thus the
educative process consists of becoming aware of our need for
others thoughts, insights, and the act of integrative minds re-
gardless of the problem or issue under critical assessment and
The suggestion here is that a synthesis of Yogananda and
Aurobindo’s thought provides us with a set of common core
values for a Western educators: 1) humankind as species is still
in evolutionary movement and that our current state of exis-
tence is only a transitory one; 2) current evolutionary move-
ment is progressing on a global scale toward a point of human
unity; 3) consciousness is the apex of past evolutionary phe-
nomenon and focal point of future evolutionary expansion; 4)
the expansion of consciousness, on both the individual and
Copyright © 2012 SciRes.
Copyright © 2012 SciRes. 15
collective level, has now empower humankind to direct evolu-
tionary movement; 5) for the next evolutionary stage to be re-
alized demands global solidarity on the part of humankind from
the integrative association of transformed individuals who are
consciously constructing a new global reality; and 6) the far
distant future is visualized as holding positive promises that
will “Ultimately” transform humankind and reality into a new
specie of higher spiritual essence.
Both intellectuals visualized that for the first time evolution,
a species has emerged that can consciously participate in its
own evolution. This phenomenon presents an unprecedented
opportunity for educators. Their thought provides global edu-
cators with Eastern and Western perspectives of social evolu-
tion, conscious transformation, and futurism resulting in a
logical foundation to formulate a notion of global unity and
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