Sayings of a Paramahamsa

Paramahamsa Satyananda

In the West we have a lot of problems with our children. What can we do?

The problems are not only in the West but everywhere where modern education has gone and where children have been exposed to strange thought processes, strange situations, strange philosophies and strange interactions. These problems come because children outgrow their age. For example, a boy is ten years old, a girl is ten years old. Biologically the girl is unfit for sexual interaction but because she knows so much, she has read so much, she has been exposed to so much, she wants it. This exposure occurs very much in modern society especially with the information boom, as you call it information and more information.

Once, many years ago, when I was travelling in South America, I came across an ordinary family. The boy was only five years old and he was playing a video game. Suddenly he said to his mother, "I am frustrated." A five year old boy can experience frustration . Can you understand that? Now this occurred in western rural society. in India the rural society is as yet untouched by this exposure. the traditional exposure in an Indian rural society is, "Let mother be my God, let father be my God, let the teacher be my God, let the guest be my God."

This exposure, this classical and traditional knowledge which has been in their minds for many, many centuries, has not been challenged as yet. Even if the local children go to Deoghar or Patna or Delhi to work for some time, they take this culture with them, and the society here is so strong that if someone tries to tell them strange things, they will set him right in a week's time, and will tell him, "Oh, what are you trying to teach us?" So therefore, the rural society in India has been able to consume the influences of modern education and modern society.

You cannot do anything, you need to have a different attitude with children now. You can't have the attitude of a rural society. You can't beat them. Your father, mother, uncle, mother-in-law, father-in-law, nobody can do it. If you say, "Sit down here," they won't sit, they'll just run away, they'll commit suicide, they'll do anything because the mind of modern youth, of modern children is very unstable.

Actually speaking, their genetic transfer is not very systematic or even scientific. Marriages today do not happen properly, marriages today happen on the basis of love. I'm not against it, after all I live in a modern society. I'm not a social reformer, but I have thought about it. There is a genetic personality in parents and we are their transfer. If I am a debaucher it is a genetic transfer from my parents.

Now marriage itself has lost its scientific base. It has a sexual base, an emotional base, I agree, but not a scientific base. A body has to match with another body. You people are all educated, scientific people. Don't think in terms of modern culture, think in terms of modern science, Modern society has lost that. In India even today when a marriage is to take place, the horoscopes of the man and woman are matched on thirty-six qualities. What is the map of your life? What is your personality? The physical body is not the jiva, it is not the individual soul. If you consider the body as the individual soul then there is nothing beyond that, there are no questions or answers.

You have an individual soul. What is its graph? There may be biological qualities, there may be psychic qualities, there may be electromagnetic qualities, there may be many more qualities, we have never thought about it. I love you and you love me - total obsession, attachment, foolishness, ignorance, blindness. I am not underrating love affairs, they have their own place, but love cannot be the ultimate decider of scientific marriage. Marriage should not occur until their mental, spiritual and physical qualities are similar. Then the marriage will be a good one.

That is why in modern society children have gone completely out of control. I know. Only three days back I received a phone call from Delhi. A boy of eleven from a very rich family, a multi-millionaire's family, had run away because his mother had scolded him. She had scolded him for good reasons, the reasons were there. He was wrong but he just left. He took some money from his private box, six or seven hundred rupees, and went to Najimabad, Nizamabad and Agra. Then he purchased wafers, chocolates and books to read, phoned his mother and said, "I am here in Najimabad." They were worried for twenty four hours. I told them, "Look here, don't worry about him. After all he is the son of a multimillionaire. He'll be right when he is older and has children."

In my time we had great respect for our parents. We didn't question them. I think that their genetic transfer was good, so we never involved ourselves in infidelity and other kinds of things. It was a plain life, a plain life. The most important thing is that your children think that they know more than you do, and that they are right. Children always think that they know more than their parents, that they are right and their parents are not. Once they start thinking that they are right and you are wrong, how can you correct them?

Secondly, what did you do when you were a child? Think! You are not like your children. You had some form of respect, the atmosphere of mutual respect was there. It still existed, but now it doesn't. Many, many years ago, I heard Dr Swami Vivekananda's son, Prasad, say, when he was still a child, "Hello Brian, how are you?" I was taken aback. I asked him, "Prasad, is he your father or your friend?" He said, "Both." If you have this attitude you will feel less offended. Our children have changed because of the cultural exposure but we haven't. We are offended when our children talk to us in their language. We should not get offended because that is the culture of today. You can't control them, you can't manage them, you can't streamline their activities. Swami Satsangi used to speak to me in a very straightforward manner and I had to accept it. She was a real terror. I didn't like it. My drawback was that I was getting offended because I had not been exposed to that culture, but these people belong to a culture where everything is outright.

I don't love Niranjan, but people think that I love him. I don't know what love is, I don't understand it. Why should I love him? He was a guinea pig for my experiment. I taped the Gita, the Upanishads and others, and at night I played them to him while he slept. That tape continued to play and rewind till morning. The problem with Niranjan was that when he was asleep he could be physically transported by the swamis from one end of the ashram to the other and he wouldn't wake up. But when he went into the deep unconscious be would get everything. If you talk to Niranjan on any topic he will talk like a teacher because he has read it. There is a seed in the unconscious mind. The Shastras call it hiranyagarbha, modern science calls it the unconscious, Samkhya calls it the causal body.

Niranjan has never studied at school. He only went to school when he went to teach asanas in schools in Northern Ireland. Swami Niranjan's first assignment was Northern Ireland and he did it very well. He had to create a balance between the Catholics and the Protestants, and the situation there is terrible, you can't even compare it with the Hindus and Muslims in India. The Catholics would say, "Why do you go to that Protestant bastard's school?" Niranjan would say, "I am teaching them yoga." They would reply, "No, no don't go there, come and teach us." The Protestants would not allow him to go to the Catholics and the Catholics would not allow him to go to the Protestants. If the house was in a Protestant area, the Catholics would say, "Don't stay there, come here," and if he didn't listen to them they would break the windows. Every morning they would write 'Yogi bear lives here' on the walls. That was Swami Niranjan's first assignment and he fulfilled it with promise and success.

You must always think that your children are items for experimentation. They are very intelligent and you can use that. If you tell your children, "This is bad, don't do it," then they will do it first. Every suggestion which you give to your children is registered in the brain as with a computer. Negative suggestions and positive suggestions have to be put very correctly because the brain reacts like a little computer. Never consider your children to be your juniors, they are senior to you. The child is the father of the man.

Please tell us about the mischief that Swami Niranjan used to do as a child?

I think his gurubhai would be better able to tell you. They were always mischievous, but not in front of me. I knew about it but I never considered children's mischief to be negative. Children should be mischievous because if they are suppressed or restricted, then they will be bad boys later and their parents will not be able to control them. If children are mischievous in a flat it is very difficult for their parents to control them because there is so little space, but if it is a property this size, who cares If the children run five times from one end of the building to the other they will be tired and sleep well.

That mischief is balila. Children have an excess of energy and they should run, they should do a lot of sport. The energy must be balanced. It is not good for children to read too much. Parents everywhere have a bad habit. They say to their children, "Why aren't you reading? Have you done your homework?" They never say, "Why don't you go and play football?" or "Today there is a nice picture showing, take some money and go." When the children want to see a picture, the parents say, "Yes," reluctantly. The attitude and awareness of parents and children is different. Children do not have an impure awareness, they have a very high level of awareness. Children are very close to God because they are pure.

Children must play and arrangements should be made for games or sports to become a school subject, with marks. Games must be compulsory for all children. Games, drama, music competitions and so on should go on side by side with intellectual subjects. What is the use of teaching that Akbar was born in 1615, or that Aurangazeb died in 1650? Who wants to know? I learnt so much history but it has been of no use to me.

If children want to read, let them read, but not as part of a course. Children do not become great by qualifications or by reading. Children become great because of the quality of their mind, the quality of their intelligence, and the quality of their reception, projection and production how much they receive, how much they retain and how much they give.

After all what were the qualifications of Newton? Was he a university graduate? No. It doesn't mean that you shouldn't study. One has to have qualifications because there is a worldwide trend, a tradition and we have to respect that. But children are always scared to face their parents if they do not receive first class marks in the exams. Children must receive an assurance, "My child, I'm just putting you in school, but it doesn't matter if you pass or fail. It's not important!"

Children should be allowed to devote as much time to sports as they do to study. I don't know about westerners but Indians are making a mistake by always insisting on study. Does any mother ask her children, "Why are you sitting here all the time reading books? Go and play, too much study, too much study." Children have nervous energy and they either misuse it or there is too much voltage and the brain fuses like a bulb. Sports purify the body.

If the child has a pure brain then what he studies at school is just enough. I don't think that children should study at home. Homework is not a good business. I don't think that any child likes it. Ask your children, "Do you like homework?" It is a fact that many students who lagged behind in their studies had brilliant careers, like Isaac Newton who was an awful student.

In my schooldays I was very bad at arithmetic and mathematics. But if you ask me any calculation I can do it now, I don't have to use a calculator. But I never got good marks in mathematics and I didn't even understand geometry. What do they teach? It has nothing to do with the brain, with intelligence. You have to be able to tackle the problems of your life, whether in business life or family life or institutional life. If you can't tackle the problems of your life then what use is there in being a first class first? That is only a boost to the ego.

Parents are the greatest obstacles in the path of children. They don't allow children to grow naturally, they want children to grow in their pattern. That is alright if your pattern is nicely prepared, but you are a worried man, you are a dishonest man, you are a sick man, you are an unsteady man, and you want to cast your children in your pattern? No! No! No! Children must grow naturally, they should read the situations in society naturally, they should learn by trial and error.

We should be friendly, we shouldn't be bosses, we shouldn't bully children. The family has to be structured on the basis of equality. Logically, psychologically, the child is equal to his father. If he is not equal to his father then why does his father love him? The father loves his child, the mother loves her child because they think that the child is very close to them. On the one hand, they express their closeness to him, and on the other hand, they bully him as if he is a servant. Where is the love? Where there is love there is no bullying. Love is equality.