Question: How much does our childhood influence us?

Sri Chinmoy: It depends on the family, it depends on the parents, it depends on the environment. If you come of a religious family, a spiritual family, then there is every possibility that this will be stamped on your forehead, or it will be written on the tablet of your heart. There is every possibility that the seed that was sown by your parents will germinate and become a huge tree with many flowers and fruits.

It all depends on the individual. There are many people who have received tremendous, tremendous affection as children. It is stamped in them. I was mischievous to the extreme, I was notorious, but this did not prevent my parents from showing me affection. I still have the source, the inner source. My parents were good, hind and compassionate.

Sometimes, at the very end of one's life, the parents' affection and compassion remains because they have influenced the person's life so much. Again, after fifteen or twenty years, some people do not care for their father's good qualities or their mother's good qualities. They want to stay on their own.

One particular disciple is one of those who thought of their parents' strengths. She was not yet on the wrong side of fifty when her father died. Look how much affection she had for her father! By that time, he was unable to see; he was blind. How lovingly she took care of him! If she had not been a good daughter, she could have said that she had her own life, she had her own husband and children to look after. But the affection and love which she received from her father when she was a little child became so solid and permanent in her heart that at the very end of his life she was full of gratitude to him. Otherwise, during those last years of his life she could have said, "Oh, no — I have other things to do now."

Many children keep no connection with their parents. When they hear that their parents have gone to the other world, only then they come for two or three days. Even for one day some children will not come. And, to my greatest astonishment, even if they live in the same state it may happen that they do not come. Even for two or three weeks at the very end, they cannot take care of their parents. They think that somebody else will do it, their brothers or their sisters will do it. They feel that they have played their role and the parents have played their role.

Everything depends on the individual — how much the individual wants to retain the affection, love, sweetness and fondness from his parents. In some cases, no matter how much you give to the parents, they want more and more and more. Their demands never end. Then what can you do? I have seen a few cases like that. At every moment the parents will expect something from their children. Even when the children are thirty, forty or fifty years old, even when they have their own families, the parents do not give them freedom. They will phone up in the morning and say, "Do this for me, do this for me, do this for me." What can you do at that time? There is no hard and fast rule. Some parents make constant demands. They say, "Because I am your mother" or "Because I am your father you have to do this." These parents have to think of their children's new life as well.