Excessive talk is responsible for students losing self-control and failing to acquire good qualities. Even the power to discriminate between what is transient and what is permanent is lost thereby. One does not know how to behave towards elders and strangers. The effect of excessive speech on the behaviour and mental faculties of people was the subject of research in Columbia University. The experiment was conducted in a primary school for 25 years. The students were grouped separately in batches of ten. Those students who spoke the least were offered prizes. Tests were conducted on students indulging in excessive talk and those observing silence or reticence. It was found over the years that the intellectual abilities of students observing restraint in speech were of a high order. There was purity in their speech. They had a broad outlook. They developed enquiring minds. They had a high degree of discrimination. In the case of students indulging in excessive speech, it was found that their memory power was weak.
They were narrow-minded. They lacked discriminating power. The result of the experiment testified to the wisdom of the ancient Rishis who betook themselves to the forest for silent contemplation. Every one of the practices of the ancient sages was designed to lead men to the highest stage. Remember that through restraint in speech you can develop mental agility.
Difference between a Scholar and a Wise Man
Wherever you may be, whether in the college, or the hostel, or outside in your homes, you have to observe the same discipline and the same correct behaviour. That alone is genuine discipline. To behave in one way in the presence of Swami and in a different way when away from Swami is utterly unbecoming. Maintain uniformity in behaviour wherever you may be.
Study well, but see to it that you make good use of the knowledge you have gained. Realise the distinction between a scholar a Jnani (one with wisdom). When you practice what you have learnt, the joy you derive from it is much greater than what you get from the study. The man who practices what he has learnt is a Jnani (a wise man). The man who merely shows off his book knowledge is a pedant. You must become wise men as well as scholars. Then you become fit for realising the bliss of the Spirit – ‘Jnaanat Evatu Kaivalyam’. Consider well why you have chosen to come to this Institute when there are so many other Universities. Here we have in addition to academic education, the focus on Samskara (spiritual values). Elsewhere there is education but not refinement of the Spirit.
Importance of Discipline in Education
Only the combination of education and spiritual refinement can bring out all the qualities in a human being. Samskara means getting rid of all the bad qualities, bad habits and bad thoughts, and developing good qualities, good thoughts and good actions. You should aim at goodness and not greatness. You may show respect towards the great. But you must revere and love the good with all your heart. The good are adored and loved wherever they may go. The great may be shown deference. Don't be concerned about greatness. Cultivate love. Become the very embodiment of love. Then you can share that love with one and all.
Students! Whether you like it or not, you have to observe discipline. In due course it becomes a righteous habit. A child in the beginning does not like cooked food. But as feeding goes on, the child gets used to the food and even relishes it. Likewise, by regular practice, you get used to a life of discipline and even enjoy it. It is through regular practice that you achieve tranquillity.
In the pursuit of your studies, do not confine yourselves to the prescribed subjects. In addition to these special subjects, you have to acquire general knowledge and common sense. Develop firm faith in God. All the ills afflicting the world today are due to the loss of faith in God. Why has man lost peace of mind? The reason is two-fold: indifference to what he has, and craving for what he does not have. Man does not make proper use of what he has. Why should he hanker after what he lacks? One should be content with what one has got and should not worry about things one does not have. Then alone can one be happy. This is true education.
Source: True Education is for Transformation, Discourse 8, My Dear Students Volume 2, Divine Discourse delivered at the Prasanthi Nilayam Campus Auditorium on June 15, 1989