Editor’s note: “Spiritual leaders answer” is a weekly column inviting Kaua‘i’s religious and spiritual leaders to share their doctrine’s perspective on a suggested subject. Every Friday a topic is printed inviting a response. Submissions are edited for content and length. Thoughts or suggestions for future topics are always welcome. Next week’s topic is souls. The topic at the end of the column is for the following week.
Baha’is of Kaua‘i
The Baha’i Faith teaches that education is not a privilege, but a right of all children. However, education must be both spiritual and material. Training in morals and values in the early years are essential if children are to love God, abide by His will and be good citizens who will benefit their community. Education should also provide children with knowledge and skills in order for them to learn good lifelong habits, to think for themselves, to make good decisions and to enjoy a profession that contributes to society.
However, unlike many cultures that give emphasis to the education of the boys, the Baha’i Faith gives priority to the education of girls. Girls, after all, will become the first educators of their children, laying the foundation for the next generation.
The following are quotes from the Baha’i writings on this topic:
“Instruction in the schools must begin with instruction in religion. Following religious training, and the binding of the child’s heart to the love of God, proceed with his education in the other branches of knowledge.”
“The education of each child is compulsory … In addition to this wide-spread education each child must be taught a profession, art or trade, so that every member of the community will be enabled to earn his own livelihood. Work done in the spirit of service is the highest form of worship. …
“Devote ye particular attention to the school for girls, for the greatness of this wondrous age will be manifested as a result of progress in the world of women. This is why ye observe that in every land the world of women is on the march, and this is due to the impact of the most great manifestation, and the power of the teachings of God.
“The school for girls taketh precedence over the school for boys, for it is incumbent upon the girls of this glorious era to be fully versed in the various branches of knowledge, in sciences and the arts and all the wonders of this pre-eminent time, that they may then educate their children.”
Rev. James Fung
Lihu‘e Christian Church
The president of the college that I attended spoke at a commencement, and I remember what he said about education. “Long after you graduate,” he said, “after you’ve forgotten the books you’ve read, the lectures you’ve attended, the papers you’ve written, when all of this is forgotten, the person that you have become — that’s your education”.
Education is not merely the academic activities that we’ve participated in. It’s more than the insight, knowledge and technical skills that we have received. The education of a person has to do with that which shapes our character, elevates our spirit and bestows wisdom that is revealed in the manner of our living.
The Bible speaks of wisdom as being more precious than silver and gold, more desirable than beauty and charm.
Education happens when we are led out of the safe places of what we know and dare to expose ourselves to the kind of truth that truly sets us free. This is the kind of education that comes to those who are humble enough to listen with their heart as well as their intellect, who are courageous enough to walk in another person’s world for a while, who are curious enough to explore that which lies beyond the boundary of that they have previously learned.
When Jesus instructed his disciples, he challenged them to be worldly wise, while at the same time, retaining a sense of vulnerability to the things of the heart.
He said, “I send you out (into the world), so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves (Matthew 10: 16).”
We need to be equipped to face life’s challenges and opportunities with intelligence, but we also need to embrace life with expectancy, hope and compassion, or we will miss out on what life has to offer.
Pastor Wayne Patton
Anahola Baptist Church
From the moment a child is born, certain forces are at work influencing his development. As his inherited powers and tendencies surface and interact with his environment and his will, he takes on the characteristics of his adulthood. Human growth does not end with physical maturity. Some faculties of the personality are capable of expansion and refinement into old age. Education, whether of child or adult, is the directing of this total ongoing process of development toward specific objectives.
The purpose of education is the directing of the process of human development toward God’s objective for man: godliness of character and action. It bends its efforts to the end “that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:17). Growth in godliness proceeds step-by-step from regeneration toward full maturity “in the knowledge of our lord Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:5-8).
The educator finds biblical warrant for the use of a wide diversity of educational methods. In his teaching, Christ, the master teacher, used an amazing variety of methods and materials. In the Old Testament from Genesis onward, God taught man through a diversity of means. In the Garden of Eden, he used a tree to teach Adam and Eve. Since the flood, he has used a rainbow to teach the world that he will not again destroy the earth by water. The entire tabernacle was a prophetic object lesson, setting forth the person and work of his son, Jesus Christ.
Biblical methods, as a rule, require some effort on the part of the student, though the effort need not be tedious. They provide for the revealing of truth by a God eager to reward diligent study, as well as for the reinforcing of learning, by man’s search (Proverbs 2:4-6). The parables, for example, required a searching on the part of the disciples before their truths were fully revealed. That which is learned at the cost of effort is not soon forgotten. God delights in blessing those who are zealous for the knowledge of him.
Rev. Dr. Nani Hill
United Church of Christ
Kaula [prophet] was a wise old man who lived on the edge of a mountain village. People traveled from near and from afar seeking his endless wisdom on living a virtuous life and the prophecies burdened upon him by God. Parents from the village appeared on his lanai one day. They sought Kaula’s wisdom on nourishing the lives of their infants and children. They knew that it would take all of them in unity to raise their infants and children to be fully matured into God’s community.
Kaula was encouraged by their insight and affirmed his covenant to “soften the hearts of parents to children” [Luke 1:17]. He asserted that each one of them was gifted and tasked to be a parent and teacher to all children in the village, not just their own, through their worshipping community. God breathes a gentle and teachable spirit on their ministry as teachers, “My spirit that I have placed upon you and the words that I have given you to speak, they’re not going to leave your mouths nor the mouths of your children nor the mouths of your grandchildren” [Isa. 59:21].
God is pleased by one’s teachable spirit for “God promises to makes things grow that are planted and watered” [1 Cor. 3:7] by faithful and loving teachers.
Lama Tashi Dundrup
Kaua‘i Dharma Center
We humans are, like children, spiritually immature. We are historically very inefficient, ineffective, emotionally unstable and deluded in both the relative and ultimate levels of living on this planet. We have brought this human race to the point of totally eliminating all life on this planet and in the process of our social engagement created war, poverty, disease, famine, environmental destruction and the spread of toxins.
Education is the antidote. This education must be accomplished by mature humans who know the nature of their minds, who have wisdom and insight, power, ultimate compassion and unconditional love for all beings and the natural world that we live in.
We have been leaving it up to God way too long.
The Dalai Lama said if we must live in gender equality and in harmony with nature, then the taming of our minds as to its absolute true nature will work to create the necessary relative changes. These states of awareness must be applied in our educational systems as well as all political, corporate, military, scientific and all social engagements if we are to become mature.
Most humans don’t know that if the tidal waves that hit Fukishima, Japan, had hit 400 miles north, it would have put enough plutonium in our atmosphere to kill all life on this planet. There is a storage facility there that contains hundreds of pounds of water containing thousands of spent atomic fuel rods being reprocessed for nuclear power plants. A tidal wave there would have caused these rods to explode into the air. This is an extremely dangerous situation; education is required on all levels.
Topic for two
weeks from today
• Will you speak to us on nature?
• Spiritual leaders are invited to e-mail responses of three to five paragraphs to afrainier@ thegardenisland.com.
• Deadline each week is 5 p.m. Tuesday.