[Day 1] Preface & the meaning of Education of the Soul
Education is an important matter in Chinese culture. Many people immigrate to the United States so that the next generation can receive a better education. As the ancient people said, “In those days, when Mencius moved, his mom chose his neighbor.” His mom moved three times for the education of Mencius because she knew its value.
What is education? Education is the maximizing and strengthening of the instincts and functions you were born with. This refers to training of the mind. Now, let us look at the second aspect of educating the whole person—the education of the soul. Brother Nee says in Spiritual Man, Volume 1, Chapter 2, “There are three greatest elements in our personality, (1) our will, (2) our mind, and (3) our emotion. The will is the organ of our ideas, our judgment, which indicates whether we will or will not, whether we want or do not want, etc. Without this will, man becomes a machine. The mind is the organ that gives us our thoughts, that is, our intellect. Our intelligence, knowledge, and all that we have in our hearts come out of this mind. Without the mind man becomes completely senseless. Emotions are the expression of our feelings of love and hatred. It is through our emotions that we can love, feel joy, hate and anger, and sorrow and happiness. Without emotions, man is as senseless as wood and stone.”
When we talk about the education of the soul, we are talking about the education of the mind, the emotion, and the will. Several of the following verses in the Bible speak about the education of the mind, emotions, and will.
First: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom” (Col. 3:16). If the word of Christ, the word of God, is to dwell in us, it first needs to be apprehended by our minds. When the early Western missionaries came to China to preach the gospel, the first thing they did was to set up schools to educate people’s minds for the purpose of opening their hearts. In this way, they could comprehend and understand the word of God so that the word of Christ could dwell in them.
Second: “Be joyful with those who rejoice, and weep with those who mourn” (Rom. 12:15). The emotions are educated and trained so that those who see joy can rejoice with him, and those who see weeping can weep with him.
Third: “But Daniel made up his mind not to defile himself with the king’s meal and with the wine which the king drank. Therefore, he begged the chief eunuch to allow him not to defile himself” (Dan. 1:8). He overcame the demonic diet and did not eat the king’s food or drink the king’s wine.” In the Old Testament, Daniel was a teenager who set his mind and his will to make a strong choice. He and his friends knew that the king’s meat and the king’s wine had been sacrificed to idols. Although they were young, they knew that they were God’s chosen people. They set their minds not to be defiled by idolatrous sacrifices and refused to eat the king’s meal and drink the king’s wine. This was a choice made they made at the risk of their lives; but, because of their strong will, God showed Daniel favor and mercy in the sight of the chief eunuch who allowed them to not eat the king’s food and drink his wine for ten days. As a result, they became more robust and handsome than all the young men who ate the king’s food (vv.9-15). This was possible because of their education and the setting of their will.
Fourth: Moses said to the Israelites, “I call heaven and earth to witness to you today; I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing, so that you may choose life, and that you and your descendants may live” (Deut. 30:19). As we grow, each of us will daily face many choices, large and small. For example, while we are young, we need to be trained from an early age to have a will to choose when to get up, which clothes to wear, what to eat, and what extracurricular activities to take part in. When we are older, we will need to choose which college to and who to marry when it is time to find a spouse. Therefore, education and training of the will is required from an early age.