Session 7 - Me and My Surroundings


Because we're all dependent on the environment, this is the first thing we should notice through an integral education—that the environment is as a cause in one's development, since the whole of one's future depends on it. If we, as parents and responsible adults, change ourselves, and thereby change our society for our children, or even for ourselves when we are already in our middle age, we thus change our nature, our desires, our outlooks on life. Therefore, we should be highly aware and cautious about the environments we place ourselves and our children into, and carefully examine and think about where we decide to travel and why, and with what friends and in what circles we spend our time, and to whom we "give ourselves up." The environment will determine the development.

Therefore, we need to teach people about all kinds of circles, different environments in one's surroundings, and the extent to which one depends on them and can manage his or her life through them. If, through all the examples, we see that man is truly an offshoot of the environment, then it's very important for us to set up wholesome environments for all of humanity, and in such variety that everyone will be able to fit into one environment or another according to one's tendencies, character, and ideas and influences from relatives and friends. This way, a person will be able to develop in life in the best way possible toward becoming a complete human being, as much as one potentially can. This is why in our integral education, we must see to it that such societies are available for people, and become involved in growing and creating such environments and societies.

If we examine even deeper, we will see that there are internal conditions within us, genes with which we were born, all kinds of tendencies that we acquire through the first years of our lives when we are next to our mothers, and later on from the environment. This is why we need to make certain that there are good kindergartens, after-school classes for children, and schools and after-school classes for older children, teens and young adults. We need to make sure that each one truly has a wide variety of choice in classes and social environments, so as to realize one's full potential, and develop in everything possible. We need to see ensure that children have the means to even develop tendencies in which they don't have great potential for excellence, so they become internally rich, well-rounded individuals. They should know music, literature, theatre, culture, and the greatest of education, and this all growing and flourishing of each and everyone's full potential depends on the social environments s/he is enveloped by.

A person also needs to have a family structure, to bring up his or her kids, to know how to relate to one's spouse correctly, to one's friends, to know how to handle oneself at work and in society as a whole. We need to teach this to people, that growing these strong family environments are vitally necessary for developing a happy and fulfilled person, that can grow the same potentials in others and in all of society. We must give people examples, show them through the right environment the right way to behave, and then they will be much more easy going in this integrally interconnected world, and will eventually thrive and succeed.

All in all, there are two elements that lead and direct us each moment in life: our natural tendencies, and the main cause—the environment and how it affects those natural tendencies. Everything depends on the extent to which I am taught the vital importance to choose environments that will develop me toward better, more developed states, in which I will acquire more confidence, more comfort and encouragement, and the best possible state at any given time or place, and thus continually develop myself toward a good and fulfilling life that is mutually, reciprocally involved in the betterment of all of society and our world.

Through this knowledge and understanding, we need to see what is ahead of us, how we can be certain that our children have a better life than ours, and that the next generation is a better one, with a safer future. We can do that only if we surround our children with an environment that designs and educates them for this. That environment will turn them into people who enhance the good inclinations in them, and it will not suppress the not-so-favorable manners, but rather, turn them into favorable ones.

Each of us possesses tendencies to act unfavorably toward others. Favorable or unfavorable actions are determined by one's attitude toward oneself and toward the environment. In one's attitude toward oneself, we must teach people how to avoid inflicting self-harm, particularly physical harm, because although we naturally protect ourselves, we also possess inclinations for self-destruction.

We also need to set straight our attitude toward the environment. Our attitude toward the environment also contains our attitude toward the inanimate, vegetative, and animate—to the environment we live in and which we must keep through mindful and favorable concern and stewardship. We need to teach people how to relate to the environment correctly because in the end, we live from this environment. We live inside Nature. The inanimate, vegetative, and animate levels of nature are imperative to us, because we receive everything in our lives from them. We eat our food from Nature and we are dependent upon the climate. This is why we must teach people how to preserve the ecology in their environment and move from excess consumption that destroys, to what is necessary and sustainable, which renews and revitalizes.

Additionally, we need to teach people how to relate to all of human society, that each time we affect society favorably, that attitude ultimately reflects on us, and creates a favorable environment around that person. It is a positive element. A person's attitude toward the environment, and the environment toward that person, are the key. Beyond that, all that needs to be taught is a necessary profession so the individual is beneficial to others, and earns a living respectably.

Thus, as we can see from our own lives that the main thing we need to develop is actually our ongoing integral education, which is our outlook on life. We need to constantly let children and adults change themselves into better states, to nurture an environment that will change us toward the best possibilities. A person himself cannot cause any favorable changes in one's own life, unless the environment compels it. If the environment helps and supports a person, if it changes one's values and by exposure and influence determines what is good and what is not for all, one's desires change accordingly, and accordingly, he or she sets for oneself new goals.


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We need to create a variety of forms of a good environment for all of humanity, in order to influence, educate, and enrich the internality of all of humanity. By doing so, people will be pleasant to others and will gain security and prosperity.

Main Points

  • The role of the educating environment is to grow one's good natural tendencies, and not to suppress the undesirable attributes, but to rather use them in a correct and positive manner.
  • The educating society needs to educate for protecting the inanimate, vegetative, and animal levels of nature in all of humanity, for this is the preservation of the environment and our ecology, from which humanity exists.


"In genuine community there are no sides. It is not always easy, but by the time they reach community the members have learned how to give up cliques and factions. They have learned how to listen to each other and how not to reject each other. Sometimes consensus in community is reached with miraculous rapidity."

Book - The Different Drum: Community Making and Peace

"If the world's peoples developed a more holistic appreciation of the intricate interconnections binding us to one another and to nature, it isargued, we would internalize social and environmental externalities, consider the welfare of future generations in making decisions today, and act in consonance with our collective long-term best interests."

Paper, "Sustaining Sustainability: Creating a Systems Science in a Fragmented Academy and Polarized World"

Conference Panel on "The Role of Compassion in Education": the development of compassion and altruism in humanity will solve the problems of the global crisis.

Conference Video - Role of Compassion in Education and Wider Societal Context

Engage Yourself

Question 1: Here before you is a summarized excerpt from a previous study session:

"All in all, there are two factors that lead and aim us at every given moment in life. On the one hand there are my natural tendencies, and on the other hand, there is the main factor, the environment and how it operates on these natural tendencies. Everything depends on the degree in which I will be taught each time how to choose an environment that will develop me more and more towards the good states, the more developed ones, from which I will reach more security, more comfort and the best possible state. And in this way, we will continue to develop ourselves all the time."

a. How do you feel about this excerpt? (select the most suitable terms to describe your sensations)

If you answered "Other," please specify:

b. Here is a quoted piece from an article by Albert Einstein:

"The individual is able to think, feel, strive, and work by himself; but he depends so much upon society—in his physical, intellectual, and emotional existence—that it is impossible to think of him, or to understand him, outside the framework of society. It is "society" which provides man with food, clothing, a home, the tools of work, language, the forms of thought, and most of the content of thought;"

Do you think Albert Einstein's words are relevant to our daily life today?

c. Can you give an example from your daily life that shows that man is highly dependent on the environment?

Question 2: The corrected society will together create an integral, educating environment for humanity, and through this environment, will then educate everyone in order to:

Question 3: What kind of education will the integral educating environment actually be, and what slice of society will it be aimed toward?

Question 4: People with negative natural attributes...