Education is needed not just to fulfill our desires, but also to know which desires to fulfill
We usually want education so that we can have a lucrative career and thereby fulfill our many desires. And, yes, education can serve this purpose, though sometimes even educated people don’t get good jobs.
But irrespective of whether education fulfills particular desires or not, it needs to serve another, far more important purpose: equip us to discern which desires to fulfill. As we are conscious beings interacting with an alluring world, thousands of desires inundate us externally and internally. If we don’t select which desires to focus on, we may waste our money, our time and even our life on unworthy desires – wanton sensual desires that titillate initially but torment eventually. The Bhagavad-gita (05.22) cautions that only those who see through such desires are wise, or, in other words, well-educated.
If our education doesn’t equip us to discern worthy desires from unworthy desires, then contemporary culture can accelerate and aggravate our dissipation in trivial desires. To get distracted by petty pleasures is an innate human weakness, but our vulnerability to this weakness is multiplied manifold in today’s hi-tech age with its countless allurements.
The Gita provides us the education necessary for discernment. It explains that we are at our core souls who are on a multi-life journey of spiritual evolution. We are meant to grow in wisdom and love, till we realize that we are eternal blissful parts of the blissful whole, Krishna. We can further our spiritual evolution by practicing bhakti-yoga and using our God-given gifts to contribute constructively in a mood of devotion.
By learning to act on those desires that expand our consciousness spiritually and to act against those desires that keep it constricted materially, we progress towards enduring satisfaction, thus fulfilling the purpose of education and of existence itself.