By Alberto Fraile Oliver
Claudio Naranjo, is a psychiatrist, a doctor who is an expert in the ‘dehumanization’ of medical education, who became a guru for the current deputy and former student leader Camila Vallejo, in educational matters.
When one listens to this 75-year-old Chilean psychiatrist, it gives the sensation of being in front of the Jean-Jacques Rousseau of our time.
He says that he was quite asleep until he moved to the United States in the 1960s, where he was a disciple of Fritz Perls, one of the great therapists of the 20th century, and was part of the team at the Esalen Institute in California. There he had great experiences in the therapeutic world and in the spiritual world. He came into contact with Sufism and became one of the introducers of the Enneagram in the West. He also drank from Tibetan Buddhism and Zen.
Claudio Naranjo has dedicated his life to research and teaching at Universities such as Harvard and Berkeley. He has founded the SAT program, an integration of Gestalt therapy, the Enneagram and Meditation to enrich teacher training. At this moment he is issuing a very strong warning: either we change education or this world is going to collapse.
- You say that to change the world you have to change education, what is the problem of education and what is your proposal?
-The problem in education is in no way what educators think it is. They believe that students no longer want what is offered to them. People want to be forced to an irrelevant education and they defend themselves with attention disorders, with demotivation. I think that education is not at the service of human evolution but of production or rather of socialization. This education serves to domesticate people from generation to generation so that they continue to be little lambs that can be manipulated by the media. This is a big social damage. You want to use education as a way to put into people's heads a way of seeing things that are convenient for the system, for the bureaucracy. Our greatest need is for an education to evolve, for people to be what they could be.
The education crisis is not just one more crisis among the many crises we have, but education is at the center of the problem. We have an education that in a way is robbing people of their conscience, their time and their lives.
Today's economic development model has overshadowed the development of the individual.
- What would an education be like for us to be complete beings?
-Education teaches people to pass exams, not to think for themselves. In an exam, comprehension is not measured, the ability to repeat is measured. It's ridiculous, such a huge amount of energy is wasted! Instead of an education for information, an education that deals with the emotional aspect and an education of the deep mind would be needed. It seems to me that we are caught between an idiotic alternative, which is secular education, and an authoritarian education, which is traditional religious education. It is good to separate State and Church but, for example in Spain, they have thrown away the spirit as if religion and spirit were the same thing. We need education to also attend to the deep mind.
-When you speak of spirituality and deep mind, what exactly do you mean?
-It has to do with consciousness itself. It has to do with that part of the mind on which the meaning of life depends. People are being educated without that sense. Nor is it the education of values because the education of values is too rhetorical and intellectual. Values should be cultivated through a process of transformation of the person and this transformation is very far from current education.
Education also has to include a therapeutic aspect. Developing as a person cannot be separated from emotional growth. Young people are very emotionally and affectively damaged by the fact that the labor market swallows up their parents and they no longer have availability for their children. There is a lot of love deprivation and many imbalances in children. A person who is emotionally damaged cannot learn intellectually.
The therapeutic has a lot to do with giving the person freedom, spontaneity and the ability to know their own desires. The civilized world is a domesticated world, and teaching and nurturing are instruments of that domestication. We have a sick civilization, artists realized it a long time ago and now more and more thinkers.
- Education seems only interested in developing the rational part of people, what other things could be developed?
-I emphasize that we are beings with three brains: we have a head (intellectual brain), heart (emotional brain) and guts (visceral or instinctive brain). Civilization is intimately linked by the seizure of power by the rational brain. With the moment when men predominated in the political domain, some 6,000 years ago, what we call civilization was established. And it is not only the male domain or the domain of reason but also of instrumental and practical reason, which is associated with technology; it is this predominance of instrumental reason over affect and instinctive wisdom that has us so impoverished. Fullness can only be lived by a person who has his three brains in order and coordinated. From my point of view we need an education for tri-brain beings. An education that could be called holistic or integral. If we are going to educate the whole person, we must bear in mind that the person is not only reason.
It is in the system's interest that one is not so much in touch with oneself or that one thinks for oneself. As much as the flag of democracy is raised, they are very afraid that the people will have a voice and a conscience.
The political class is not willing to bet on education.
- Education immerses us in a sea of concepts that separate us from reality and imprison us in our own mind, how can we get out of that prison?
-It is a great question and it is a necessary question in the educational world. The idea that the conceptual is a prison requires a certain experience that life is more than that. For one who already has an interest in getting out of the prison of the intellectual, the discipline of stopping the mind is very important, the discipline of silence, as practiced in all spiritual traditions: Christianity, Buddhism, yoga, shamanism ... Internal dialogue in all traditions of human development has been seen as very important. The person needs to feed on something other than concepts. Education wants to enclose the person in a place where they are subjected to a forced conceptual education, as if there were nothing else in life. It's very important, for example, the beauty. The capacity for reverence, for wonder, for veneration, for devotion. It does not necessarily have to do with a religion or a belief system. It is an important part of inner life that is being lost in the same way that the beautiful spaces on the Earth's surface are being lost, as it is built and urbanized.
- I just wanted to ask your opinion about the ecological crisis we are experiencing
-It is a very evident crisis, it is the most tangible threat of all. It can be easily foreseen that with the warming of the Earth, with the poisoning of the oceans and other disasters that are happening, we will not be able to survive as many people as we are now.
We are living off oil and we consume more resources than the earth produces. It is a countdown. When we run out of fuel it will be a disaster for the technological world we have.
The people we call more primitive, like the indigenous people, have a way of treating nature that does not come from the utilitarian sense. In ecology as in economics and other things, we have wanted to dispense with conscience and function only with rational arguments and that is leading us to disaster. The ecological crisis can only be stopped with a change of heart, true transformation, which can only be brought about by an educational process. That is why I do not have much faith in either therapy or religion. Only a holistic education could prevent the deterioration of the mind and the planet.
New World Magazine