Education as cultivation of spirituality and ethics pertains to not only the spirit and the intellect of a man but also to his/her body. And that is because man is a combination of both the spiritual and the physical, so he/she needs to take care of and cultivate both of those aspects. The achievement of this goal is accomplished amongst other things by two important gals/prerequisites: physical exertion and creative contact with nature and its rhythms.
How important is physical exertion to man is also evident through a story dating back in ancient times – two and a half thousand years ago – from China. Then on as fine afternoon the Chinese wise man Ding Yu was discussing with a villager, who came down to draw water from the well for watering in the well, and after filling up a pot of water, he ascended pouring into the grooves. Nitch told him: “There is a way for you to water a hundred grooves in just one day.” The villager turned around and asked him what that way was “Yes,” he said, “you get a wooden lever that is heavy at the back and light in the front; this way you can pump the water.” Then the villager replied angrily: “I have heard my teacher say that, whatever machine he uses, he performs all his actions mechanically, and whoever performs actions mechanically, begets a mechanical heart, but whoever has a mechanical heart in his chest, loses his pure simplicity and whenever this simplicity is lost, man is uncertain of the biddings of his mind, which is not befitting to a real human being. It is not that I do not know how to use them, I am just ashamed to be using them.
From all the above, if we can not keep the letter, we may at least observe the spirit. The point is to make being in contact with nature a priority for us and our children. If we can not actually toil in the land, we can go for walk in nature, learn to observe it, listen to it. The more we come in contact with it, the more our mental powers will be renewed. If the above applies to all, it apply twice as much for children, more so the younger ones at the critical age when they are first developing their character and personality.
A Chinese wise man said that the intellectual man should spend half his day cultivating the earth, and the rest of the day he should devote to studying and writing. This seemingly paradoxical suggestion hides wisdom; the cultivation of our earth “grounds”us in real life and liberates us from the virtual world of the virtual reality. It acquaints us with nature; it makes us observers and students of its glory;
it teaches us patience and respect to the miracles of life; it oxygenates the brain both literally and metaphorically. Of course, such an activity requires a lot of physical effort, but it is deemed necessary and rewarding, especially for those living in an urban environment. The effort we make bears fruit, nature responds, we can watch, observe the mystery of life, experience firsthand the saying ”no pain , no gain”. This is a great lesson that we all need, young and old alike.
Aristotle (384-322 BC), one of the greatest philosophers, scientists and teachers of all time, was aware of the value and magnificence of nature. He studied it systematically (” On Animal of History”, On Animal Molecules”, “On Animal Gait”, “On Animal Movement”, “On Animal Generation”, “On Sky”, “On Meteorology”) and used to teach his lessons in idyllic places.
This is illustrated by the School of his, about 2 km from today’s Naoussa, located in Isvoria. It is the place with the running waters and the deep caves mentioned by the ancient writers where the great philosopher of Greek antiquity taught to the son of King of Macedonia Philip II and the other lairs of the Macedonian court about the glory of classical Greek thought and the ideals of Platonic philosophy . The meeting of these two great figures of the ancient world at Nympheo of Miesa had a decisive influence on the future of mankind and the entire Western Culture.
Dealing with objections
Reservations such as “this is too hard”, “too time-consuming for everyday life”, “lack of time” do not stand up to reason. Our own preoccupation and, consequently, of our children as well, with the virtual reality of technology, in the net world and in the hectic pace of life, is a bad omen . We know this and we have been experiencing it. We owe it to ourselves, and especially to our children, to get out of this vicious circle and set out on the awesome journey of returning to our home, to our Culture.
May it Be So !!!