Question: How can one describe to a small child spiritual feelings which tend to be abstract, as opposed to beauty which a child can receive with the senses?

Sri Chinmoy: For us, something like prayer is not abstract. We fold our hands and cry inwardly to someone who is above or within us. If you want to explain prayer to a young child, do not try to convince him only with the physical. Tell him that prayer is something totally different than just folding his hands and looking up. Tell him that prayer is something that we do inside, but if we want to see or feel it, then we have to fold our hands. You can tell a child that prayer is something which he will feel when he folds his hands and talks to God. Then, when he folds his hands and feels something within — whether it is awe or love or sweetness or softness — then for him prayer will no longer be abstract. It will be a reality.

For meditation he has to sit calmly and quietly. When he sits like that, immediately he will begin to feel that he is meditating. This concrete action will take him into something which is abstract. You can teach a child through outer action, but do not neglect to emphasise the inner feeling. When he starts feeling joy, peace and love, gradually he becomes that joy, that peace, that love and all that he is feeling. When he feels something, how can it remain abstract? Now he feels that his body is his own. His body is not abstract because he is identified with his body. Whatever he is identified with he claims as his own. If he identifies himself with prayer or meditation, he feels peace, joy, love and so on. And once he feels these things, he gives form to them and they no longer remain abstract. Through outer action, make your child aware of something within him. In the beginning that thing will be abstract, but afterwards it will not be abstract.