‘Each type of living being is distinct and different.  But when we pierce the veil of difference, we see unity in all beings’   Svetsavatan Upanishad (400-200 BCE)

I am not always too keen to use quotations.  It is impressive in terms of demonstrating how well read we are and where other people’s thinking coincides with ours.  However, there can be a tendency to rely on the wisdom of others and for our own thinking to be second hand, holding ourselves to be inferior to those whose reputation and provenance are extremely impressive.  Nevertheless, as if to prove that nothing we say is new, but still has to be said, I refer you to this ancient verse from India and leave you to ponder on the far-reaching possibilities of this understanding entering our consciousness.
Meanwhile, can we consider the impermanence of all life?  This is another fact that should it enter our consciousness would transform the way we approach many things, not least the way we learn and how we act. 
Delhi station is dimly lit and foreboding to us as we look for the right train.  It is quite a few years ago and I am taking our eldest son to board the train to Bangalore after spending three weeks with him and a group of younger students in Rajasthan.  Although we had not been together the whole time, we continued to enjoy each other’s company and share the delights and disturbance of much that we were experiencing, and being with each other in such circumstances brought a new closeness.

Rats run over the track and emerge from a hole near our feet.  We do not have much to talk about now.  For me this is the first time of leaving a child of ours alone in a country so many miles from home.  For him he is making an epic journey that will take him many hours.  He will be met at Bangalore by a friend, but between then and now there is that empty, unknown space and in the darkness there is a need for courage.
The train pulls up loudly creaking and groaning as it slows down.  We find his berth on a carriage thronging with people.  Someone is already lying on the hard, dark bed, but gets off without complaint.  We make sure that all that is needed is present: the chain to fasten his bag to the bed for safety; water enough to keep him going for the long journey; some food.  However, he is feeling sick and at times he shakes with nerves, an involuntary spasm.  Amid the noise of chatter from families and individuals in the carriage we say our goodbyes and he sits on the bed looking around him, wide-eyed with wonder and trepidation. 

What can I say - I who have been an integral part of his protection, of his growth and whose blood flows through his veins?  I feel that I am being broken up.  We hug and leave each other; there is excitement, unspoken emotion and not a little fear.  The train grudgingly pulls away and I watch his face in the gloom.  He is gone.  And I am overwhelmed by the memory of the two year old boy taking his first steps in the park, laughing with joy, his arms held out in front of him to steady the fall that will come.
There is nothing sentimental about the fact that everything changes and all that is living dies.  To bring a child into the world is to engage at first hand with an extraordinary vulnerability and to be exposed to the possibility of intense suffering.  However, that child is all children, not your possession and you are relating to all things growing.
So what significance does this have to our learning and to education?