Sri Chinmoy: According to me, education is self-cultivation and self-cultivation is God-perfection in human life. For an Eastern or, let us say, an Indian child, freedom is a far cry. For a Western or, let us say, an American child, freedom is as easy and natural as breathing. In India, even now most children are taught through severe discipline and fear. Here in America, as far as I can see and feel, in most cases parents look for satisfaction by fulfilling their own dreams, and they neglect their children’s needs. They say to their children, “We do not want to impose anything on you. You discover your own truth and choose for yourself what is best, for how do we know what is best for you?” In this way, the parents are unconsciously if not consciously casting aside their responsibilities. The parents will say, “Look, we really love you. Here is the proof. We have given you a TV, a tape recorder, everything that you desire in the material world. Therefore, we expect you to stay with your friends and let us live our own lives and fulfil our dreams in our own way.”
Unfortunately, I can subscribe neither to the Indian method of bringing up a child nor to the American method. Parents should not keep a frightening tiger in front of their children so that at every moment fear will compel the children to do the right thing. Nor should they allow their children to grow up in the Elysian lap of exorbitant luxury. Parents should be neither autocratic disciplinarians nor unreserved distributors of material wealth; they should be loving, self-giving and discerning friends.
The education of children and the education of parents must go together. The parents must fulfil themselves through their children. As the creation cannot be separated from the creator, even so, the creator cannot be separated from the creation. The creation without the creator is helpless. The creator without the creation is meaningless. Therefore, both must contribute to each other in order to derive real fulness-satisfaction. The parents must go deep within to make the right decisions for their children, and the children must find their real freedom in their oneness with their parents’ will. Let us consider the children as finite realities and the parents as infinite realities. The children can become infinite and enjoy infinite freedom only by becoming consciously, unreservedly and inseparably one with their parents’ wisdom-light.
The parents must not think of their children as unnecessary projections of their own life; for if these projections are unnecessary, then they can go in their own way. On the contrary, they must feel that their children are absolutely necessary projections of their life, and that the improvement and perfection of their children is part and parcel of their own perfection. The beauty of the leaves, flowers and fruits of the tree only adds to the beauty of the trunk and its roots. It does not diminish the beauty, divinity and necessity of the tree.
Here I wish to quote from your most illumining insights about global education: “A child born today will be faced as an adult, almost daily, with problems of a global interdependent nature, be it peace, food, the quality of life, inflation, or scarcity of natural resources. He will be both an actor and a beneficiary or a victim in the total world fabric, and he may rightly ask: ‘Why was I not warned? Why was I not better educated? Why did my teachers not tell me about these problems and indicate my behaviour as a member of an inter-dependent human race?’...
“Global education must transcend material and intellectual achievements and reach also into the moral and spiritual spheres. Man has been able to extend the power of his hands with incredible machines, of his eyes with telescopes and microscopes, of his ears with telephones, radio waves and sonar, of his brain with computers and automation. He must now also extend his heart, his sentiments, his love and his soul to the dimension of the entire human family and to our total beautiful planet circling in the universe.”
The parents should bring the presence of God, love, truth and purity into the hearts and eyes of their children as soon as the children can see the light of day. They should say to their children, “We are true companions, and we have an all-loving Guide who will guide us, mould us and shape us into perfect Perfection. We know a little more about that Guide than you do, and He has told us to say certain things about Him to you. Right now the Guide has asked us to act as intermediaries between you and Him. But there shall come a time when you will not need intermediaries. You will be able to go directly to the Guide, the Source. Until then, you must listen to us for we are your earthly friends.”
The acme of the children’s education is their perfection in life and their perfection for God-satisfaction. And to offer their children that, the parents should not impose nor expose nor even propose; only they should become the living flame of self-giving in order to realise their own world-satisfying life and to please the Source in its own Way.