Early years: The greatest ethics is friendliness, which culminates in generosity. Brain comes later. It is the domain of religions to evolve the most profound qualities of heart – kindness, sympathy, affection, tenderness, gentleness, mildness! The gentle qualities of a gentleman.
Is there any place in the childhood for religion? The Sufi say that infant is an exile from heaven and that is why it cries; it feels uncomfortable in this dense world. Babyhood is the best opportunity to sow seeds of God-idea when angelic quality is fresh.
The way of Christ was to give humanity the ideal of God as the heavenly Father; because even a child can conceive and understand the ideal. What a help it is for a child to think from early childhood that there is a Friend unknown, unseen; to be able to say, there is Someone who hears my prayers.
At 10-12 years we can introduce children to basics of metaphysics; of who we are; to know that there is a soul, that there is a mind, that there is a body, that there is a relationship between the soul and mind, and mind and body. At this age child is most imitative… and the best thing is to give good impressions to imitate. If by this age we have not given the higher direction, then later on it will be difficult. Age 13-15 years is the period of inner conflict and religious education is needed; first children must know one religion in order to know all other religions.
And, in what way should one teach the child religion? The ancient lesson of God-ideal which all Prophets and teachers have given, is to give the child the God-ideal: God of goodness, of beauty, of compassion, of love, of harmony; love of prayers and feeling of reverence. If any child has spiritual tendency it will show from age of 5 years.
But guardian must be careful not to sow the seeds of bigotry with religious ideal. Belief in God is a blessed time – then he fights for his Church, that is his main ideal – when he is more evolved, he despises other creeds; this is bigotry. If guardian is not able to discuss religion it is better to give the child the habit of sitting in silence and thinking of the ideal.
Ideal of the unknown, unseen: If this ideal is not inspired what does a person live for? Only a loaf of bread? If the spiritual ideal, God ideal, is not inspired in the child, then it is as you see today, millions lost in a crowd, living day to day, purposelessly.
It is in childhood that the spirit is responsive, and if the God-ideal is inspired at that time then one has done what Christ has said, ‘Seek ye first the kingdom of God… and all these things will be added unto you’. Respect for elders must be learnt and it must be respect from within, in spirit. Understanding the sacredness of relationship with parents, elders, others. When respect comes from within, it comes with joy and gives joy.
If child asks, what is a soul, the shortest answer will be, you’re your innermost being, your invisible self, your ‘self’, which covers your body. But that self is your real self, body is only a covering. Often these metaphysical truth goes into heart of a child like a spark of fire which slowly blazes into a flame, a flame which will guide it through its life.
Character building: The ordinary person reacts to outside influences and inner impulses, like a machine; in this way we cannot keep in harmony with music of life (Rtm). Real civilization means the art of life, knowing the music of life. In an orchestra, players of every instrument have to play their respective parts of music to perfection. The Conductor is not concerned with the sadness or gladness of the players. To be able to have this control over oneself, to play our part perfectly, we must have control over our inner self (our mind, our responses), because every outside manifestation is nothing but a reaction of the inner condition. Therefore, we’ve to learn to control our mind, strengthen the will power and learn to understand life better (That is why religions have prayers, scriptures, rituals, meditations to get the healthy worldview of creation – of ‘our oneness’ as spirit; not separateness!).
Faults? Everyone has faults. Only those can enjoy life in its fullness who know what the relation of friendship is between one soul and another soul (soul consciousness), the tenderness of that connection, its beauty, and its sacredness. And, in this very manner, that we deal with each other, we must someday communicate with God.
For it is the same bridge that connects two souls in the world which, once built, becomes the path to God. There is no greater virtue than proving kind and trustworthy to one’s friend.
To receive spiritual inspiration, we need a pliable mentality like water rather than a rock; the finer, subtler we’re, the further we grow towards God, the subtlest mystery of mysteries, His knowledge is a mystery, life is a mystery. All prophets try to express the mystery through words, but mostly in silence. Far better to be subtle, gentle, speaking truth that is peace-giving, healing, comforting than merely being outspoken, frank, like hitting a person on the head.
We may have gained power over the world but without spiritual orientation, we’ve failed to gain power over ourselves! Schooling is the time to learn the basic underlying need of daily self-development practices to get inspiration and build ability to be good and to have love, care, concern for each other.
Views expressed above are the author’s own.
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