Parental Love

Dr. Swami Vivekananda Saraswati, MB, BS (Syd.), MANZCP, DPM (a senior swami of BSY who is currently touring and lecturing throughout Colombia)

Children are the life of the family, the hope of the nation. Every child is unique with vast and undreamed of potential and creativity, and limited only by the growing demands and conceptions of the adult world. Children can be likened to a fertile garden yet to be tilled and planted. Their hearts and minds are so open and receptive that each and every impression leaves its mark for life. Therefore, in guiding the destiny of our children, parents must be very careful gardeners, so that their love helps the child to bloom and grow and does not pull him down or smother him in weeds.

Let parents give their children the fullest measure of love of which they are capable, but not hate themselves if their capability is not as great as they would like. Try not to give too much love to worldly objects. Remember, each of us, because of his limitations, can only express a limited amount of love. If we have most of this tied up in our material possessions, there is little left over for our nearest and dearest. Give plenty of love to the children but don't expect them to give it back; that is not their obligation in life yet. Don't talk about love with children; it only confuses them. Just try to be love for them. The love of a child is a sincere, candid love, it asks nothing, it just is. For instance, the child may be running through the room occupied with his business, then he sees his mother. He runs up, gives her a sloppy kiss, then moves on. Nothing is said, nothing needs to be said. If he says, 'I love you', he has already started to intellectualise it. If he does it because he wants something or to impress the visitors, he has already started to contaminate it. But when he just gives love for the sake of love that is the richest gift anyone can receive. Let us receive it with grace.

Don't try to inculcate a strong sense of morality into children; it will only stifle their natural honour. Anyway our morality is a concept which is as changeable as the time and culture, and will probably be outdated long before they reach our age. Just let them develop spontaneously and the natural honour that results will be much nobler and much grander than any little second hand morality we can give them. Besides, if we are moral and considerate ourselves, they will be too.

It is important to protect children from too much sexual titillation. They cannot express it adequately until after puberty, so before that it just creates tension and confusion. Moreover, the quality of their love tends to become sexualised if it is not allowed to develop freely without contamination. Similarly, if the quality of self-assertion is contaminated by sexuality, it can lead to the person later expressing his power in terms of counterfeit sex or expressing his sexual behaviour in terms of power.

In industrial countries around the world, the average age of puberty has declined nearly four years in the last hundred years. This means that girls and boys are now coming into puberty when they are still quite immature. In April 1976 Obstetrical and Gynaecological Survey reported that in a study conducted in Massachusetts (USA) many girls were reaching puberty at around nine years of age, and that although the average age was around thirteen years, this was still particularly young. Those children who are subjected to the drives of sexuality at such an early age are virtually 'thrown' into the world of adulthood completely unprepared. The repercussions of this are well known to all who deal with the problems of adolescence.

There are probably a number of reasons for the early sexual maturity, but one is commonly accepted. It is said that the great accent on sexuality within many societies arouses the children psychologically when they are still very young. This in turn leads to an early maturity, via the hypothalamus-pituitary-gonad axis (hormones from the brain).

Early puberty creates only disadvantages and problems for children and their parents. We should start reversing this trend if we are going to avoid a community of confused young people. There seems to be two main ways in which to do this:

  1. Let us stop 'advertising' sex in our communities. Let our children grow up in an atmosphere of play and fun, not of enforced adult sophistication.
  2. Teach the children yoga practices including those which continue the development of ajna chakra.

Knowledge is a great blessing, as long as we don't clutter the young minds with intellectual concepts and symbols. The early years are the time for exploration and discovery, and the time for the child to tone up his natural discrimination, initiative, intuition, and other extrasensory abilities. Let us protect children as far as possible from the ever growing tendency to overeducate them at a young age.

We suppress the natural abilities of the ajna circuit if we force intellectual-factual knowledge on children at too early an age. Let us not explain too much to children, rather encourage them to experience for themselves. The pleasant experience of the song of a bird is somehow dimmed by the 'head' producing too much information such as name, nesting habits, etc. The little bird-watcher will find the nest sooner or later and the name can wait until he becomes an ornithologist!

In the early years let our children experience, not absorb facts; let them be, not imitate; let them practice intuition and initiative, not intellect.

This applies especially to our educational systems. Formal education is one way of learning about our world, but it is certainly not the only way. We can see learning as occurring in three forms:

  • a) factual learning (learning facts, concepts and symbols as in most education systems)
  • b) experiential learning (learning by experience)
  • c) realisation (the highest form of learning in which we 'know' without being taught).

All of these are necessary if we are to acquire the fullest wisdom, but in industrial societies young children are receiving so much factual knowledge nowadays that it is contaminating the other two abilities. Their whole spontaneity is being drowned in a flood of educational detail, and the valuable gifts associated with their ajna chakra circuit are being covered for life.

Let us protect our children from overexposure to the sordid aspects of life, for these produce very negative samskaras in their minds. Small children can neither understand nor do anything about the violence, the warfare, the arguments, the pollution of the environment, the population explosion, the bomb, or any other of the aberrations of our society. Yet they sit in front of the television set and fill their minds with it all. In many places they are even told to do it because they discuss those things at school. As far as possible let them stay away from violent movies, violent comics, and especially violent and dangerous situations in life. When they are adults, they will be able to keep these things in perspective but when they are small, they just receive mental scars which drag them down.

Let us also give them a healthy perspective about money, property and possessions. They should have respect for those necessities with which we do our work and fulfil our obligations. Such things should not be worshipped, however, for they make very insubstantial and unsatisfying gods.

Finally, but most importantly, let us practice yoga ourselves and expand our own love, joy, confidence, contentment, wisdom and consciousness of our place in the scheme of the universe. The greatest gift we can give our children is to develop our own qualities. Remember, it is the example we set for our children not the things we preach to them that become the heritage of mankind.