We are all children. We have created children in our own image. It is not merely that we have created them and they grow up in any way they like. We aspire to see a great flower budding out of them.
In the past people thought that yoga was only necessary for grown-ups. For centuries children were not concerned with the practices of yoga. People believed that yoga was a mystic or occult practice, a type of magic, or a chase after some unseen object. Therefore, children were kept out of yoga groups.
After thinking about the scientific reasons for introducing the practices of yoga to children, I made many experiments on children to see how yoga influences their body, mind and personality. I was compelled to conclude that yoga has a very important role to play in the structure and development of children's minds and bodies, and that children should be exposed to the practices of yoga.
One reason why yoga should be included in the education system is to maintain the health of the pineal gland, thereby creating a balance between the physiological and emotional personality of the child. Furthermore, in the classroom children do not respond favourably to teaching. They respond out of compulsion, out of fear. Their only objective is to pass the examinations.
In the yogic system, however, education is carried out by a process of transmission. Children are psychically very sensitive and they respond much better to a transmitted form of knowledge, rather than compulsion. Their capacity to imbibe is fantastic. It isn't necessary to tell children all the academic details. Nature has provided them with the necessary amount of intuition to know what is good and bad. But, unfortunately, this natural gift is gradually being destroyed by modern methods of teaching. Therefore, in trying to educate children, we must remember the importance of transmission.
When a child grows up, he has many adjustments to make. Sometimes the energy patterns in the body are in disharmony for physiological and biological reasons. The sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems may be unbalanced. Yoga practices can bring about changes in the human personality by influencing the endocrine system. Yoga postures in general and concentration in particular maintain the health of the pineal gland, which balances the emotions and the mental functions, creating the necessary balance in hormonal behaviour.
Children are mobile energy patterns. It is not enough to feed them with food or stuff their minds with book knowledge. Food is necessary to keep the body going. Stuffing the brain with arithmetic and geometry is necessary to make them a professor, an administrator, a doctor or a lawyer. But at the same time you have to take care of the thousands and thousands of energy currents that are flowing in to the body, and that ultimately maintain the whole structure of their existence.
When the child reaches his twenties, the metabolism slows down slightly and at this time a system of discipline is needed. Self-discipline is not institutional, religious or social discipline. Discipline is knowing what you should and should not do. There is a system of balance in the physical body. If you know the secret of how to create harmony between the energy patterns in the body, you can automatically create an idea of discipline in the child.
Discipline is an expression of profuse harmony in body and mind. Discipline is not teaching the gospel to children. You don't have to do anything to the child. Imposed discipline and morality are the first things that mankind has to leave behind and forget. Grownup people always think they have great wisdom and that it is their duty to teach children the right way. Maybe the children are right and we are wrong. There is a difference between them and us. They can't understand us and we can't understand them. It has been my difficulty with young disciples - I think my own way and they think theirs. But this is a difference I understand. Now, therefore, the children will have to be disciplined by indirect methods, and this discipline comes through the practice of certain yoga postures and pranayama.
The foremost problem of children is that they try so hard to have a first class memory, to be top in the class, but they can't actually make it. What limits their capacity? It means that the brain's circuits are not all functioning. If we divide the whole brain into ten compartments, in the normal brain only one part is functioning and able to cope with daily life; the other nine sections of the brain are still silent.
It is necessary to develop these silent areas of the brain if you want to give an expression to genius. Children's genius has to be expressed, but nobody knows how to develop the genius in the child. To do this we have to create a systematic process to awaken the silent areas of the brain. These silent areas are the dormant potential centres of energy. Within them is education, knowledge, awareness, a completely computerized process.
To awaken the qualities of perception children have to be exposed to the practice of meditation. Each perception has a completely different formation when it penetrates into the brain. We all know that the brain has archetypes. In yoga these are called yantras and mandalas. You can train yourself to perceive these things through sound or through any process of inner visualization. If you are able to develop the perception of symbols and language that already exist in the brain, then you can bring the cosmic computer into action. The child can become a master of the thousands of faculties stored in the brain by developing the power of perception and bringing this storehouse within the area of conscious command.
Training of the structural basis of the brain is discipline. If you are not able to discipline the energy patterns of your brain, you will not be able to increase the faculties of perception, even if you accept religious discipline. You must increase the capacity of perception and awareness of your children by scientific means. You do not have to push your children to practise yoga. If children know that yoga is a method for the enlargement of their perception and awareness and the development of their personality, they will be the first to practise yoga.
Everybody should know what they must do. Children are all made to follow the same system, but this is wrong. Everybody is born with a different innate capacity. Some are made to be intellectuals, some to be politicians. There are so many faculties which can be developed. Do parents know what is the inherent capacity of their child, or do children know for themselves? For instance, when I was in my twenties, if I had not decided the road which I have taken, maybe I would have been a tremendous failure in life.
A person who is capable does not succeed everywhere in life but only in that particular field for which he is made or chosen. Who is going to decide the mission of the child? That is the perfect puzzle, the greatest question. I do not refer to vocation here - becoming a professor or a doctor that's a different matter for which we receive a particular education. I am talking about a greater dimension of education which teaches us what we have to do, which shows us what the expression of our existence is going to be and how we can best fulfil it.
There are many young people today who are floating in darkness like ships without rudders. This is not because there is anything wrong with society, or because they lack discipline. They are rudderless because they haven't found a base for their existence. If you can give this to children, you are giving them the ultimate education.
The harmony in the society of children should not just be discovered in society. We should expose them to the practices of yoga in a gradual way, not only in the schools and other educational institutions, but yoga schools also must have a separate wing for children. To teach yoga to children is the easiest of all jobs. In fact the children are gurus and we are the disciples. It has always been said that the child is the father of man. In the same way the disciple is the guru of the guru.
All over the world most people have children and the children are going to be the good and bad citizens of tomorrow. If their personality is not completely integrated, that will be the structure of your society. Whether it is politics, social events or a great war, the children of today will be directing affairs. If you want to produce scientific thinkers and statesmen, the children are there. Let us create products of the finest quality by teaching our children yoga.
If children are given the opportunity to develop spiritually while receiving their education, they will do so much better than we grownups, because they have no conditioning. Their mind has not been brainwashed and is like a fresh flower. The destiny of the whole world depends on the little children. The children we are teaching today will form our culture tomorrow. We have had our turn, now let us help the children understand the secrets of themselves and the mysteries of life.