Four Principles of Conscious Childrearing




Four Primary Principles of Conscious
Childrearing

 

Introduction

“Birth is shock. It is the primal
incident. As an incident, it is usually interpreted
psychologically—in terms of its emotional-mental or
subjective impact. But its significance is in the event
itself, the sudden event of existence as the whole body.
Birth is itself shock-vital shock, a recoil at Infinity. Our
life is a drama of subjective struggling against an
unbearable demand: relationship, incarnation, or love. We
are in the mood of recoil, contraction, and
self-possession—not by virtue of some inward and
soulish pre-existence, but by virtue of birth itself, the
apparent independence of self all relationships imply. All
that is other implies the separate me. Even infants, growing
adepts in the shock of living based on birth, demonstrate
this reflex, the self-sympathy that dramatizes our
suffering. There is no innocence, for all have been born.
The feeling of independence is the burden of living
beings.” –
(The Paradox of Instruction)


 

Birth Is Shock

If we are to serve our children, we
must understand their True Condition and constantly draw
them to it. To do this, however, we must also understand the
condition they tend to presume, their fears and habits of
recoil, just as we must understand ourselves in order to
grow. In this way, children are not fundamentally different
from adults.

Every action of the born being is
that of Narcissus, the threatened, separate one, and this is
no less true in childbirth than at any other stage of
un-Enlightened human life. “The feeling of independence is
the burden of living beings.” All beings feel separate and
tend to act on the basis of that feeling. Practitioners of
this Way must grasp this most fundamental understanding and
constantly apply it in service to our children.

Adi Da points out that the universal
drama of Narcissus has its root in incarnation
itself:

I have called this “Vital shock,”
the shock of birth itself. It is not merely the trauma of
going through the birth canal, but the trauma of realizing
independent existence—which is the case for all of you.
And you not only have the sense of independent existence,
but at the experiential level you seem to be something that
can be destroyed. You recognize that everything with which
you are related can be destroyed. Everything upon which you
would want to depend can be destroyed or taken away from
you. This basic recognition is present from the beginning of
life because each person is bodily existing.
(“The Great Lifetime Illumination,” The Laughing Man, Vol.
4, No. 2, p. 21.)


This vulnerability overwhelms the
infant and child, and thus every child recoils from manifest
existence to protect himself from further shocks. Adi Da has
called this recoil the first philosophical gesture of the
being. Its effect is much greater than any mere idea,
however: it fashions our entire existence:

Adi Da: When we look out into the
universe, we feel insulted, rejected, unloved. And so we
make philosophy out of our apparent independence. Thus, the
primal event of suffering is not some circumstance that
happens to us. It is not an event within our objective
experience. It is not some thing that we conceive to exist
in relation to us, or over against us. The primal event of
suffering is us. Our suffering is not recognized as
separation from something else in particular. It is our own
appearance, our own independent existence, and we interpret
this present event as separation on that basis. That
interpretation is our first philosophical gesture, the first
time we say or feel “you don’t love me.” (The Way That I
Teach. pp. 145-6.)


This recoiling gesture of the being
is true even of infants. There is a great fear behind the
persona of every being, no matter how young, and we must not
be naive about it.

Each child has a
characteristic way of expressing his or her awareness of
this fundamental sense of vulnerability. Some children feel
emotionally separated from those who love them, and this
feeling is reflected in a chronic sense of somehow being
poor and unlovable. Other children express this basic sense
of vulnerability through the mechanism of doubt-they do
something wrong and think they might lose approval, they
fear that their connection to life and love will be
threatened. Both these types of children feel threatened by
human experience, mortal experience, but each of them
expresses it through a different response. Both types are
pointing to the same thing: They are both communicating to
us that they feel they can be harmed or that they are in a
vulnerable position. Everybody expresses this emotional
state in some fashion. (“The Great Lifetime Illumination,”
p. 19.)


 

Adi Da makes it clear that this
vulnerability is not something learned through life
experiences but that “the later shocks of life in the form
of pain or actual experience of separation only reinforce
something that is fundamentally obvious to the being from
the moment of conception”
. (“The Great Lifetime
Illumination,” p. 21.)

He also points out that this recoiled
emotion is not as profound as one might think; it is founded
only in the sense—the presumption, not the
reality—that we are separate.

Fundamentally, it is not our
experiences in particular relationships that tell us we are
not loved. Some people do not love us, surely, but
nevertheless we are simply, always, and already
philosophically disposed to believe that we are not loved.
It is our interpretation of existence, not on the basis of
any relational experience we have had with other human
beings, but on the basis of our apparent independence
itself. Our sense of independent bodily existence means
separation to us, whereas, you see, it is really only the
sense of independent bodily existence. (The Way That I
Teach, p. 146.)

The child’s search for love and
unity through internal and external means, though less
dramatic than adults’, is no less active in him or her than
in grown-up seekers. There is only one way out of this round
of contraction, reaction, and seeking, and that is to Awaken
to the Condition, and not merely the potential in Nature, of
the individual—to rest in That which is Prior, in which
we already and always inhere.

What human beings must
realize is a condition of Unity with What is Alive, What is
Life. Every child and every adult must become stably and
emotionally involved in the dimension of Reality in which
things that can happen in the more obvious human or manifest
dimension of our physical and outer-directed consciousness
do not have the consequences that they seem to have when we
live in our primitive fear-consciousness. We must awaken to
a fundamental emotional sense of being connected to the
Reality that does not kill us, that does not separate from
us. We must awaken in such a way that we basically do not
feel threatened by human existence. This is fundamentally
what religious consciousness is all about. (“The Great
Lifetime Illumination,” p. 19.)

This unthreatened consciousness is
the spiritual disposition of love, trust, and surrender-the
faith presumption. It is this unthreatened consciousness
that we must cultivate in our children, and because the ego
does not love, trust, or surrender, we must transcend
ourselves in order to serve them. From conception onward,
our bodily, mental, and psychic approach to the growing
child affects what he will learn and what he will presume
about life. The relaxation, release, or healing of vital
shock and the threatened consciousness in children is what
we must constantly serve. They are utterly dependent upon
our intimacy with them to transcend themselves, to be
vulnerable and to feel. Our true intimacy with them nurtures
them and requires them to give up the lie of separation and
betrayal that holds them back from the possibility of a
spiritual Way of life. Thus, children are healed only
through “re-bonding” with Life.

We are all faced with the difficult
demand to remain vulnerable in relationship, to incarnate as
love, and children must feel and be served to meet this
demand in terms they can understand. This is the only way
that they can be prepared to meet the tests of this world
with two sides-both pleasurable and painful—and use the
unique opportunity for self-transcendence that a human birth
represents. Therefore, children need a life in which the
“dynamic of growth” is consistently present: nurturing
intimacy and the demand to constantly go beyond oneself. Our
culture is based on the expectation that children can and
will mature through all the seven stages of love. For this
to occur, they must receive this lesson continually: Only
the Mystery grants one the strength of heart, mind, and body
required to fulfill the difficult demand of real
life.


* * *

This manual of study covers four
major principles that must be understood if parents are to
bring their children the radical disposition-one that does
not reinforce the egoic adaptation. None of these
principles-intimacy, discipline, attraction, and sex and
body-positiveness—are separable in actual practice. By
applying them, our tendency to focus on the “problem” that
children’s dramatizations appear to demand us to solve is
undermined. This free and Happy approach is our test, our
sacrificial service to children, so that they may live a
truly religious life and remain always free to be Happy. The
fourth principle-transcendence of sexual neurosis-has
received relatively little attention in the culture. Adi Da
points out “that sex-negativity is the primary life-negative
message that children get. His “Life-positive,
body-positive, sex-positive, Happiness-positive, and in
every sense positive” (“Our Defense of the Body in God”, The
Lesson, Vol. 4, p. 211.) message educates us in the free
acceptance of each child’s bodily pleasure and native urge
to ecstasy.


 

Chapter One

Intimacy Is the Healing
Principle

Adi Da: The right association of
true devotees duplicates the spontaneously healing mechanism
that the Spiritual Master brings to each student. That
mechanism is love. Mutual love conducts the Radiant Power of
Life, and it purifies each of us of our accumulations of
independent, subjective, and mortal experience. Through
right association we consciously share the qualities and
energies of Life in a most benign way, so that the
imbalances of each individual are harmonized by the spectrum
of qualities radiating from others. The process of
reception-release engaged in such devotional intimacy is the
direct communication of Life-Force, providing a circuit for
the conductivity of energy in the bodily being. And such
love and spiritual intimacy is the perfect rejuvenating
Agent, the Force that enlivens the whole bodily being and
enables us to transcend the whole world. (The Eating Gorilla
Comes In Peace)


 

Session One

Intimacy Is the Healing
Principle

The intimacy that Adi Da recommends
to students is nowhere better summarized than in this
excerpt from “Become Wounded by Love”:

What I mean by this Love for one
another is to become wounded by love, to submit yourself to
that, to live in that world and make your relationships
about that. Be vulnerable enough to Love and be loved. If
you do this, you will be wounded by this love. You will be
wounded, but you will not be diseased. The Wound of Love is
the hole in the universe, and ultimately it is Realized as
such. In this hole in the universe, this domain of Feeling
without armoring, without self-contraction, the great
physics is present, the great science, the great
possibility, is evident. Hardly anyone in human history has
known of it. Human beings in general do not want anything to
do with it. They do not want to come close enough to it to
be wounded in their intimacies with one another. It is the
doorway to infinite Transfiguration, Transformation, and
finally Outshining of phenomenal existence. It is the way
into the Transcendental Domain. You must be wounded in order
to Realize God. You must be wounded to hear and see. It is
felt even physically as a kind of wound. It is felt as
intense, armorless vulnerability. (Crazy Wisdom, Vol. 2, No.
7, p. 31.)


 

By resting in the wound of
vulnerability with our children, they feel connected to
Life. They depend on us to continually reconnect them to
Happiness and love, so that they may be healed of the shock
of independent existence and move through the stages of life
in their appropriate time. Thus, true healing takes place in
an environment of open feeling, in which the being is given
access to the Wisdom and Power of the Divine. This restores
the heart to its native disposition of Love-Communion with
God. Children do not learn Communion, vulnerability, and
love by themselves. They must be lead to spiritual intimacy
with God. They will tend to merely play out their threatened
consciousness if we do not provide them with a humanizing,
self-transcending culture in which intimacy heals the
self-contraction.


 

Intimacy Is the Healing
Principle

(based on a talk by Adi Da, 7/19/80, Look at the Sunlight on the Water)

The purpose of discipline is to
provide children with conditions through which they may
adapt to the laws of life, or the demand for a relational
and sacrificial disposition. The key to helping children
make this adaptation is to integrate them into social
conditions and behavior to the point of enjoyment—in
other words, to draw them into a sphere of intimacy. Once a
child has learned to enjoy relational life, or the
circumstance of intimacy, then the basic discipline for
improper behavior is to temporarily withdraw the privilege
of social contact, though without bodily punishment. The
effectiveness of such discipline, however, rests entirely on
a free and Happy approach to the child. Obviously, not
everyone is able to practice this discipline, because it
requires a profoundly loving commitment to the child.
Therefore, parents, teachers, and other adult intimates must
awaken to this responsibility so that it becomes possible to
truly serve the child through this approach. Strong,
dependable, and loving relationships with children form the
foundation for the application of discipline, through which
children are aided in their adaptation to a lawful way of
life. When this discipline of temporary separation or
exclusion is practiced without the background of an intimate
love relationship, it becomes a very dehumanizing and
non-sympathetic approach, and the child is likely to become
more and more exaggerated in the very qualities that the
discipline was intended to address.

So long as intimacy is firmly
established, temporary separation from the social
circumstance is useful, because it allows the child to
recognize what he or she truly values, and what is truly of
value, which is love and intimacy. Such discipline puts the
child in a position in which he or she can and must make
choices based on what is valuable: The child can react and
dramatize, or he or she can choose to be in relationship in
a circumstance of love and intimacy.

It is not easy for a child to
recognize what is valuable in the midst of the bombardment
of experience that anyone encounters during childhood. If we
are to help children to realize that intimacy is the primary
value, then love must prevail in the child’s life. Only in
this way can intimacy be brought into the foreground of his
or her experience. If the pleasure of intimacy is absent, if
love is not freely given, then the child is automatically
reduced to manipulative, reactive efforts to attain love and
attention. Based on this consideration, there are three
principles that must be strictly adhered to when a child is
dramatizing and requires discipline:

1. Do not assume a problem. Rather,
assume a happy willingness to serve the child, based on your
understanding that the child’s unhappiness is an opportunity
for him or her to hear the Teaching and for you to serve the
child in that hearing. (“Hearing” is a technical expression
used by Adi Da to describe the intuitive understanding of
the self-contraction and simultaneous intuitive awakening to
Transcendental Consciousness that arise through disciplined
study of the argument of the Adept. Such hearing is the
foundation for the practice of true spiritual
life.)

2. Ask the child to talk about how
he or she feels. All children, and preschoolers in
particular, tend to regress to a nonverbal state when
suppressing emotions. It is important to draw them into a
relational disposition in which humor and sympathy for the
ordinary man’s dilemma can be expressed on both your
parts.

3. Be creative in bringing the child
an alternative to his or her unhappy action.

Basically, there is one thing that
children are reacting to, and that is the absence of
intimacy. Reactive emotions and inappropriate behavior in
general are secondary symptoms of a primary frustration.
What is being frustrated is intimacy, or life-positive,
associative energy. Thus, you cannot deal with these
secondary, reactive emotions directly, as if they were the
point. What the child is actually suffering is the point,
and that is what must be addressed in him or her. A
circumstance must be provided in which the primary emotion
of love can be expressed or chosen in any
moment…

On the basis of such consistent
intimacy, temporary social exclusion of a child for negative
or unrelational behavior can and does serve his or her
social and spiritual adaptation. Children should not be
instructed about life and emotions primarily through
language, or by being “talked at,” nor should they be
arbitrarily disciplined in the absence of prior intimacy.
Rather, they should be instructed through intimacy, through
the development of sensitivity to the primary emotion of
love. Always enhance that sensitivity, rather than deal
problematically with secondary emotions. Children should be
practicing the primary associative attitudes and experiences
of serving, sharing, listening, touching, and so
on.

What all this points to is that
there are no “methods,” no techniques for disciplining and
raising children if you are not already loving. If you live
this Way of life, the principles of creative human
adaptation, including the discipline of children, will
become obvious. In that case there will be no need for
conventional techniques. The profound obligation to serve
the highest adaptation of human growth will be your natural
capability. Your service will be to God, not to fulfilling
your own present and arbitrary requirements through loveless
and willful demands. Your action, your body, and your speech
will become ecstatic in your confession of the True
Condition to your children. When you love there will be no
failure to serve them in this Way of life.


 

Intimacy Is the Healing
Principle

(Based on conversations with Adi Da,
7/19/80, further excerpt, previously unpublished)

Intimacy is the healing principle.
Parents and teachers of both sexes must live an intimate
life with children. It only creates a vacuum, a problem, if
this does not happen. You must establish your relationships
on the basis of intimacy. Children become more and more
exaggerated when intimacy is lacking, and they are reduced
to manipulation when the basic pleasure of intimacy is not
present. Anger in children is an indication that they do not
have a feeling of human intimacy. Therefore, we must always
provide right guidance in an intimate situation wherein all
formalities are understood. If a parent is always absent,
there is an absence of intimacy. There is one basic thing to
which all children react—absence of intimacy. We must,
as parents and teachers, create and bring real value to
intimacy with people, the world, and God.

Thus, children should not be
instructed about life and emotions through language, but
through sensitivity. Anger needs to be transcended (not
suppressed) by helping children to be concretely aware of
their feelings and to learn a different orientation to them.
When the life-force becomes dissociative in children, then
anger develops. Serve the awakening of sensitivity and
associative energy. Be communicative with them about their
desires and interests. The primary emotion of life has to be
expressed through sensitivity and awareness. A child
transcends his reactive emotions and anger only when we
bring him into a condition of sensitivity. For instance,
anger is not transcended through suppression or release but
only by bringing the individual into awareness of his or her
feeling relationship to others and the world. In other
words, you must constantly deal with the primary emotion of
relatedness, or love, and enhance that sensitivity, rather
than deal problematically with secondary reactive
emotions.

Summary Points

1. The purpose of discipline is to
provide conditions through which children adapt to the laws
of life, or the demand for a relational and sacrificial
disposition.

2. The key to helping children make
this adaptation is to integrate them into social conditions
and behavior to the point of enjoyment, into a sphere of
intimacy.

3. Temporary exclusion from social
contact is useful because it allows the child to recognize
what is truly of value, which is love and
intimacy.

4. It is not easy for a child to
recognize what is valuable in the midst of the bombardment
of experience that anyone encounters during
childhood.

5. Three important principles of
discipline are: a. Do not assume a problem; b. Draw the
child into a relational disposition; c. Bring the child an
alternative.

6. Every reaction has its basis in
the felt absence of intimacy.

7. Children learn about life and
feelings primarily through intimacy, not
language.

8. Anger and other reactive emotions
are a sign that the life-force has become dissociative. Draw
children into emotional association, serving their
sensitivity to what they are feeling and to what others are
feeling. Always enhance children’s sensitivity to the
primary emotion, which is intimate relatedness, or
love.


 

Intimacy as the Constant Occasion of
Existence

(an excerpt from a talk by Adi Da,
9/4/76)

None of you grew up in a true
culture. You were not met by elders and brought through the
trial of your growth. You were not obliged to learn what it
is to think, to feel, to act, to be incarnate bodily, to be
sexual in truly human and spiritual terms. In the larger
society, you are thrown into the world in your late teens,
supposed to be a man or a woman, but with no idea of what
that involves. Therefore, we are creating a culture within
our community in which to fulfill the initial adaptation of
your birth so that you can enter into the fourth, or humanly
mature, stage of life as the master of your birth, capable
of the truly creative and free life of love.

The society or culture of our living
is an occasion in which to complete the process that has
been so badly managed in your case and that is so badly
managed in the world in general. What you need for growth,
for fulfillment, is not an orgasm, a sandwich, a book, a
belief—you need none of those things. What is required
for human and spiritual growth is the complete commitment of
the body in love, in Enlightenment. You need intimacy as the
constant occasion of your existence. You need to abide
heart-full in each instant in relation to all this arising.
You must become capable of that.

The first three stages of life is
the period during which an individual is prepared for such a
full existence. However, most of you, no matter how old you
are, in some very critical way represent a life that is
incomplete in its essential adaptation. The culture of the
community is intended to complete that transformation, that
adaptation. That transformation is effected by individuals
working and living together, combining themselves in all the
ways that support their survival, their happiness together,
engaging in ordinary relations with one another and being
tested in those. You must practice all of that until the
presumption of Enlightenment, which is the sign of entering
into the maturity of existence, is real in you, is stable in
you, is not qualified by your failure to be the master of
your whole condition.


 

Session Two

What Intimacy Is Not

There are particular ways that
parents (and adults in general) typically dramatize their
lack of real understanding of Adi Da’s Teaching about
children. One of the most common of these dramatizations has
its origins in infancy when our children were a new event in
our lives and required almost constant attention. We often
continue to grant our children an amount of attention that
is really only appropriate in infancy and that does not
truly serve them at an older age. By becoming fixated in
attention to our children, we reinforce their tendency to be
neurotically attached to having our constant attention, and
they frequently develop a false, “cute” persona to keep our
attention on them. Adi Da describes this conventional play
between parent and child:

Children are often treated as if
they were precious, as if they require special attention to
satisfy their independent, self-glorifying nature.
Self-glorification, or Narcissus, is not what life is about
at all, nor what spiritual culture is about. All the
“preciousness” of the mother and the father with their son
or daughter must be released. Parents must constantly
release their hold on their children. They must release them
from the binding effects of their own neurotic
tendencies.

All children learn to be involved in
this “precious-cutesy” game. Such preciousness leads toward
either sexual promiscuity in adolescence or, if the
individual is not sexually active, toward sexual
disturbance. The game of the precious child is the
culminating incident of the emotional neurosis shared by
parent and child, wherein the parent will not let the child
go. The “precious-cutesy” game is a way whereby parents bind
the child to a false relationship. It is a way of constantly
relating the child to the false relationship between it and
the mother or father. For example, the girl plays that the
father is her boyfriend, or the boy plays a romantic game
with the mother. There are many possibilities and
combinations of this neurotic pattern.


(“Our Children’s Sphere of Intimacy Must Constantly Be
Expanded,” based on notes by Adi Da , 12/1/81)


 

Another common way in which we fail
to serve our children is by failing to discriminate between
dissociation from and self-transcending release of them. If,
in an attempt to “release” our children, we merely
dissociate from them, cut them off in order to protect
ourselves, only hurt will result. We must rather allow our
relationship with our children to grow with them and become
spiritualized. Adi Da describes the difference between
release and dissociation:

Parents should not be playing the
conventional role. That does not mean there is no
intimacy—no one should feel that at all. Parental
release is a demand for profound intimacy, spiritual
intimacy. It means living a life of intimacy and
progressively expanding within it, rather than living the
parent-child bond. (“Our Children’s Sphere of Intimacy Must
Constantly Be Expanded”)

Prior to emotional conversion, we
tend either to create a cult with or dissociate from all our
relations. We do the same with children. By tendency we are
involved in a cycle of neglect and consolation with our
children. Observe this cycle in yourself. It is founded in
the self-contracted cycle of anger and guilt that children
tend to evoke in us, and if we do not understand and
transcend this cycle, we deny our children the consistent
intimacy, the nurture and demand, upon which they depend for
growth.

One sign of this cycle is in our
attempts to console the child. We want to prove the love
that we feel but fail to incarnate because of our own
inability to be vulnerable and intimate. We also tend to
console our children for another, even less conscious,
reason: We hope that they can thus be spared the painful
confrontation with Narcissus that we have been obliged to.
But this is a confrontation that your child will inevitably
have to make.

Children need to learn, in simple
terms, what the self-contraction is—that it is felt as
un-Happiness-and they need to feel that it is not something
that is happening to them but that they are actively
generating. Without this understanding, children cannot
rightly relate to the life of discipline and devotion that
is offered to them by the Adept and that is brought to them
most immediately by parents, teachers, and guides. Children
must acquire a healthy respect for the force and profundity
of the ego and the great intention that is required to
transcend it. We cannot prevent the ego in children, nor is
this desirable, but we can bring them to their greatest
Help, Satsang.


 

Adi Da: You cannot prevent the
strategy of Narcissus in a child in any case. As soon as
there is attention, there is perception and cognition. And
as soon as there is perception and cognition, there is,
through the phenomenon of targeting, the reflexive or
reflected sense of specific and separate self-existence.
Each individual must understand this process in himself as
he matures. All you can do as a parent is retain and assert
your humor and, as much as possible, not exploit or even
suppress the strategies of egoic life the growing child will
necessarily manifest. (unpublished talk, 1975)

Thus, do not cooperate with or be an
“enemy” of Narcissus. Become a spiritual friend and release
your child from your hold on him as a “mommy” or “daddy.” Do
not think that by holding onto your child for an extended
period of time that you can protect him from what there is
to inspect. You must consent to let your relationship change
daily, if that is what is called for.

Adi Da speaks of this process of
growth not only in personal terms but as a social
response:

A growth process in childhood takes
place literally from the moment of conception until eighteen
to twenty-five years of age, which is the culminating period
of transition out of childhood. A fundamental principle
concerning the development of children is that their sphere
of intimacy must constantly be expanded. As they mature, in
other words, children should constantly move into more and
more relationships, more and more intimacies. From birth
until six to twelve months, the mother is the primary
relationship of the child. Parents must be educated to
observe the signs of the child’s readiness for a more
expanded sphere of intimacy. The parent has the constant
obligation to move the child into the larger sphere of
community. (“Our Children’s Sphere of Intimacy Must
Constantly Be Expanded”.)


 

This expanded sphere of intimacy is
not about being casually associated with everybody.
Spiritual Practice is the form of real intimacy, and
intimacy is a conscious creation and requires real
work.

Adi Da: Adults must establish a
culture, act as spiritual servants for the children, and
permit them to grow beyond this sphere of concentration on
the parent. This can be misunderstood to mean that we should
abandon the relationship, but we must not exclude the parent
relationship at all. The principle of this Way is
relationship. The intimacy that is to be created with
children is profound. What must be dropped are the
conventions inherent in that relationship, not the
relationship itself. Rather than move away from the
relationship, parents must develop it. The parent-child
relationship should become more and more like a friendship,
rather than a form of psycho-physical bondage.

Therefore, parents should not play
the conventional role. However, that does not mean that
there is no intimacy. In fact, this parental release is a
demand for profound intimacy, spiritual intimacy. It
requires progressive expansion within a life of intimacy,
rather than living the parent-child bond.

Children should become more and more
intimate with people to the point of living fully in the
Good Company of a sacred culture. They should represent an
emotional strength within that culture. At the end of the
second stage they are related to community, and in the
maturity of the third stage they take up the sacred Way of
the community as adults.

Thus, the principal point of view of
this consideration is that every child’s sphere of intimate
association should be constantly widened and expanded,
progressively and in a lawful order. The cultural
disciplines with which children are involved should permit
them to fully devote their lives to human beings, to the
natural world, and to the Divine Reality, each in a
progressively expansive manner. (“Our Children’s Sphere of
Intimacy Must Constantly Be Expanded”.)

Summary Points

1. “All the ‘preciousness’ of the
mother and the father with their son or daughter must be
released. Parents must constantly release their hold on
their children.”

2. The “precious-cutesy” game is a
way whereby parents bind the child to a false
relationship.

3. Parents have the constant
obligation to move their children into the larger sphere of
community.

4. Adults must establish a culture,
act as spiritual servants for the children, and permit them
to grow beyond this sphere of concentration on the
parent.

5. The parent-child relationship
should become more and more like a friendship, rather than a
form of psycho-physical bondage.


 

Session Three

Serving a Child’s Capacity for
Intimacy with the Divine in Daily Life

In order to serve our children’s
capacity for intimacy in all their relations, we must
appreciate what it is to be a child. A child’s perception of
existence is very different from ours. When we enter into
relationship with a child, we rarely feel into what the
child’s perception of life is and communicate to him on that
level. Rather, we tend to relate to him in adult, verbal
terms, whereas a child’s perception is very feeling and
concrete. Children do not interpret what they experience,
and they presume little or no knowledge about it—they
simply respond to what they see and feel.

If we are to serve children’s
intimacy with the Mystery and not merely give them verbal
information about life, we must feel beyond our tendency
toward mentalizing and abstracting the Teaching. What
children need is a concrete demonstration of love. If
children do not feel bodily that they are loved, they cannot
connect with the Divine, with Reality. What must become
basic to their personality (and to our own) is the
fundamental trust of Existence. It is the foundation of
spiritual life and growth—the basis of dependence upon
the Divine, the faith disposition.

Adi Da: Faith is trust in the
fundamental Nature of Existence. It is simply that feeling
itself. It has no other content that believes, “If I have
faith, my body will get well. If I have faith, the world
will create peace. If I have faith, I will live
forever”—it is not that. It is just a fundamental
emotion, the emotion of trust, unbounded feeling in the
context of birth. You know how difficult it is to come
across that faith emotion. Nevertheless, simply to trust
Existence should be fundamental to our being. How many of us
trust Existence? I mean altogether. That trust should be
most basic to our personality, but it is not. What is most
basic to us is that we do not trust Existence. We are
thinking about It, worried about It, and hyperactive because
we do not trust It. We are seeking physically, exploiting
ourselves and so on. Because of the emotional problem, we do
not trust Existence, we do not love, and we do not enjoy
free energy and free motion. We do not participate in the
Current of Life that pervades Nature. We do not even
acknowledge that Current exists. (unpublished talk,
12/82)

Children evaluate life through
testing it, and they test everyone they encounter. They want
and need to know: What are the limits? Am I loved? Am I
taken care of? And because we tend to relate to children in
an authoritative, parental way, we tend to tell them how and
what to do, rather than being in a relationship of
vulnerability, of spiritual friendship. Thus, by our
example, we retard their capacity for intimacy.

When we love our children, we enter
into the process of life with them, and we are free to
conduct their upbringing and education as a samyama, a true
consideration. The Truth cannot merely be spoken—it
must be revealed in life. We must enter into profound
relationship with children and enter into their perception
of the world. We must teach them through a felt response to
that perception. When the child is educated through real
consideration—through being offered choices and seeing
the results of those choices—then they do not feel
threatened by demands and rules. Instead, they become
naturally converted to a spiritual Way of life through
revelation. Children will always test our Practice, our
feeling, our love. We need never feel threatened by this
testing. We need only to maintain our relationship with the
child or children we serve through everything we do with
them, everything we train them to do.

As you teach children about the
Spiritual Master and about devotional Practice, the most
important communication you will take to them will be
nonverbal. If he sees you on a regular basis entering into
ecstasy in the company of others and in the Company of the
Spiritual Master, he will follow that lead. Do not go into
the Communion Hall with him and show him how to do every
little thing, making sure that he sits like a soldier and
that he reports that he feels the Presence. Enter into
ecstasy yourself, and if he squirms around a little bit, it
may be part of his experimentation. Of course, he must be
taught to approach the occasion formally, but consider how
formal he is actually capable of being, and then sit with
him and let him feel you enter into ecstasy, into surrender,
and he will do likewise.

Just so, if a child sees you
transcending yourself in ordinary circumstances, he will
follow that lead as well. He will notice when you are in the
midst of a difficult situation and are transcending
yourself. Children watch you all the time to see what you
will do! If they see you react, they will get the message
that it is okay to be reactive. If you are entering into
relationship with the Divine, they will get the message that
it is ecstatic to transcend yourself. In that case, they
will feel the ecstasy of transcending themselves.

Adi Da: Children must be in happy,
loving, open, communicative environments at all times. They
must not be in the usual anti-life environment. They must be
allowed to grow emotionally in free and open terms in their
relationship to and understanding of the Divine, of people,
of the world, of the realm of Nature and creatures. Then
they will be free of all neurosis. They will come to an open
understanding and be able to regulate and discipline
themselves for purposes they themselves understand.
(unpublished talk)

Another very significant aspect of
serving our children’s capacity for intimacy with God and
all apparent others is to provide them with a “Divine
mythology,” rather than conventional stories and
entertainments. Consider the usual children’s stories, such
as The Three Little Pigs or Goldilocks and the Three Bears.
Why do children love these stories? There is the obvious
tension-release mechanism, but, even more significant, that
mechanism is built upon and directed toward a threatened
being—overwhelmed by circumstances or by “bad
guys”—who is magically saved in the end. Clearly, this
reflects a conventional child’s psychology. What is not
communicated in these stories is faith, or reliance on the
Mystery, or Life, that Pervades and Lives us and everything.
As Adi Da points out:

Children must learn what a spiritual
relationship is. They must recognize the Spirit-Power that
literally is contacted through feeling and breathing. They
must learn that Power is the Divine. Therefore, instead of
playfully allowing them to become motivated to play out the
games of threat and fear that they encounter in conventional
stories, orient them to a Life-positive understanding and
Practice. We must try to teach children to live a happy and
positive way of life through all their functions.

Children generally communicate and
dramatize that they feel threatened. They typically rehearse
their future adult consciousness by identifying with
threatened personalities. We must teach them to dramatize an
unthreatened consciousness instead. Only from the
unthreatened point of view can they overcome the difficult
circumstances of life. Thus, it is all right that children
become aware that life can he threatening or difficult. Such
awareness is psychologically healthy. However, we must help
them to see the threats and difficulties of life from the
point of view of an unthreatened and spiritually awakened
consciousness. We do this by helping them to realize a
breathing, feeling relationship to the Universal Power, the
Divine Personality of God.

As parents and adult friends of
children, we must communicate this Communion with God
directly to children all the time. Encourage them to feel
it. Then bring them to see how the Enlightened person
overcomes difficulties in life. Through stories about such
Enlightened beings, our children can discover the Power that
really conquers the demons! You cannot look to the
TV-and-storybook public world for such morally useful
literature. You must seek out literature from the sacred
spiritual traditions. In this Communion you also have the
example of My own life and the stories I have written for
children. These are the kinds of stories that must be the
cultural foundation for the children of devotees, and any
other stories must be Interpreted from the radical point of
view offered by this Teaching.

Children should enjoy a feeling,
breathing relationship with the Mystery. They must learn to
recognize the Happiness that is felt in relationship to the
Mystery. Childhood should be seen in terms of a pattern of
growth in which the child is always served to transcend the
limits of his or her current adaptation, through the living
association with the spiritual principle of Happiness. Get
children to do something different than the usual life!
Orient them to a spiritual understanding and practice of
existence.

Establish children in a
Life-positive consciousness. Occupy them with living,
adapting, enjoying, breathing, feeling, and relating to the
Mystery, or God. We should be helping children to practice
ecstasy. And in the midst of their life of feeling and
breathing the Mystery, children need to acquire spiritual
strength in relationship to the limits imposed by the body
and the world.

Children are involved in a spiritual
struggle, working out a spiritual problem. Therefore, all
children should be ecstatic and awake, consorting bodily
with the feeling of the Mystery. We rest give them the gift
of a fundamental emotional disposition of Happiness that is
as native to them as feeling and breathing—a spiritual,
Happy understanding of the Mystery of life. (Look at the
Sunlight on the Water, pp. 107-10.)


 

The Principle of Life-Positive
Association

(based on conversations with Adi
Da)

When children demonstrate
destructive tendencies, particularly in relation to Nature
and animals, this is a sign of fear of losing intimacy, as
well as a sign of neurotic dependency on their
parents.

We must make certain that children
have a true relationship with God. They go through certain
rituals of approaching God, but they do not by tendency have
a true feeling-relationship with God, just as they do not
have a true feeling-relationship with Nature, or with other
people. Help them to relate freely to God at all
times.

It should also be understood that
some children feel that their relationship to God violates
the parent-child relationship, that it violates an unwritten
contract with the parents. If you notice this, help children
to move out of the fear that their relationship with God
violates their relationship with their parents.

Some children have a tremendous fear
of being wrong. When this is the case, you should take the
threat out of being wrong. Being threatened is a primary
feeling in children. The feeling of being altogether
threatened evokes a specific fear. Therefore, you must
relieve that game. Talk to them and play with them in a
circumstance in which being “wrong” is possible. Get them to
play at being wrong, and get them to release their fixation.
You must work to draw them out of it and thus reduce the
power of the circumstance of being wrong. Attract them into
a position in which the circumstance of being wrong does not
create strangeness and a feeling of being threatened. Get
them to laugh at it. Relieve them of the ritual of feeling
bad about being wrong. They are involved in a primitive
mechanism, and you must draw them out of it through a
stimulus-response behavioral approach, through God-games,
and a feeling-sensitivity to their needs.

Other types of children have a
tendency toward feeling “poor me” and rejected. The same
circumstance must be created to draw them out of that. You
must serve the individual child to be an emotionally
associated personality by constantly applying him to
relationship in positive circumstances. This, rather than
dealing with any neurotic complex he may have, is what draws
a child out of dramatizations. The principle is to bring him
into constant Life-positive association, into the condition
of intimacy, and allow him to adapt and grow within that
structure. This real education is what is needed.


 

Universal Desire and the Way of
Touch

a talk by Adi Da, 8/14/79
(The Laughing Man, Vol. 4 No. 3)

Touch is precisely the dimension in
which you must become awake. You must transcend the
intellectualizable senses of sight and hearing and so forth.
Samadhi is simply a matter of passing through all the
internal lights and sounds and visions associated with the
intellectual senses into the domain of the sense of touch
where all the intellectual senses are suspended. At the
level of touch we read the very condition of the nervous
system in space. But, as touch, that condition is blind, it
is prior to the usual body sense, prior to all the
intellectually organized complexity of inwardness.
Inwardness vanishes, and what is seen is at the skin level.
Our contraction from infinity can possibly even be measured
in terms of electrical activity at the skin level. It is
only when the sense of touch becomes Enlightened that the
subtle activity at the level of the skin achieves its Native
State and permits bodily intercourse with the Infinite
Radiance.

The ultimate dimension or mode of
the nervous system is cognized at the level of touch, not
via the intellectual senses which include all the senses
except touch. You propose, in your egoic fashion, to go
about exploiting the intellectual senses, the receptor
senses, which can be associated with higher person
contemplation, in separation from the physical. Yet,
separation from the physical is basically separation from
the sense of touch. You tend to exploit these other senses
because the surface of your being is not entirely released
through touch into infinite Radiance. Your neurosis is
reflected at the level of touch, in your avoidance of
relationship, your contraction of the sense of touch. You
recoil, you turn upon yourself toward the inward part.
Therefore, you principally violate the organization of the
being relative to the sense of touch, or simple,
whole-bodily surrender.

You are least conscious of the
dimension of touch. You think information comes first
through these intellectual senses such as vision—and
all the games you play with these senses which are
associated with higher imagination. But long before you see,
the very surface of the eyeballs is contracted by fear. The
very surface of the brain is contracted. The extremity as
well as the root of the nervous system is contracted. The
very presentation of the whole-bodily being is fundamentally
contracted. Thus, the media of the body-mind all provide
information qualified by a fundamental error of the
whole-bodily being at the level of its most basic
presentation.

The Way is founded on touch. Only
when the whole body, or the total surface of the body, is
Enlightened—rather than when some isolated part is
stimulated—can you fully involve yourself in the sense
of touch. The whole body is associated with touch. All the
other organs of sensation are creepy little internal
sensors—and yogis always exploit these sensors. They do
not take up the Way of touch, which is founded in the
whole-body sense of touch.

Thus, the liberation, the
Enlightenment, of the sense of touch—and not its
inversion—is the vehicle of the Way. Touch transcends
all the other dimensions of sensation and awareness. Touch
transcends sight and sound and all the mystical experiences
that can be realized through the inversion of any of the
other senses. You can experience all kinds of visions of the
Great Being by inverting the sense of sight, but an entirely
other dimension is revealed when the dimension of touch is
liberated, freed from the subtle effort of contraction that
separates the body at its skin level. The whole-bodily being
resumes its fundamental presentation of itself prior to
inwardness and recoil from the universal design and from its
own Being and Radiance, its Condition in Truth.


 

Four Primary Principles of Conscious
Childrearing

Chapter Two

Discipline Is an Act of Love
within the Culture of Expectation

Adi Da: Only true, spiritual, and
moral community provides the human functional basis for the
continuous testing and schooling of human qualities. When
people exist outside the cultural bond of community, all the
forms of anti-social and self-possessed aberration appear,
and, once having appeared, they cannot truly be changed
unless the individual is restored to the condition of
community. Therefore, devote your freedom to community. Put
your energy into human things. (Scientific Proof of the
Existence of God Will Soon Be Announced by the White
House.)

Session One

A Review of the Instructions on
Discipline

This session is a review of the
published literature on discipline. It begins with “The
Initiation of the Challenging Force” from Ice Cream &
Shoe, the toddler manual. This consideration of the artful
application of the challenging force is included here
because it does not only apply to toddlers. Can your child
receive and always respond to a clear demand to go beyond
himself or herself? The challenging force is best initiated
and the positive response to it established at the toddler
age, but if this has not taken place, then it must be done
at whatever age spiritual life is embraced. Also addressed
in “The Initiation of the Challenging Force” is the dynamic
of challenge-nurture, “the two-man con.” This also does not
merely apply to the toddler age but should he understood as
a principle of growth throughout a lifetime.

Adi Da has said that students must
not be afraid to “discipline and love one another”—in
other words, to serve one another as we have been served by
Him. True discipline is love. It arises out of the
compassionate regard for all others that is awakened in
students when they “hear” the Teaching of Truth and “see”
the Spiritual Master.

Children do not have the will or
understanding necessary to choose a spiritual Way of life
apart from our consistent offering of that choice to them.
It is part of our Practice to create a culture that actively
expects that children will live this Way of life. Apart from
such a culture, they cannot mature spiritually.

Adi Da: Children are simply
incarnate human beings at a very early stage of development.
They do not enjoy responsibility of a very sophisticated
kind at all. Thus, they require and depend upon the human
cultural environment around them—not just the natural
environment—to come to the position of responsibility
in which they can live as mature human beings. (unpublished
talk)

All practitioners are called to
“discipline and love” the children of our community through
a “culture of expectation” that is alive at all levels of
maturity. If the demand to practice is presented to children
only by the parents or only by the teachers, rather than
being universally present in the culture, then it is much
more difficult for the child to learn the necessary lessons
of life.

The “culture of expectation” is
coincident with the “expanded sphere of intimacy.” Thus,
true discipline is simply the obligation of relationship. It
does not arise from any politics of power that the parent
may assume by virtue of age or size! Such politics only
threaten children and create reactivity. True demand comes
culturally. It is benign and diffuses the one-on-one dynamic
of parent and child. Adi Da speaks further of the primacy of
the cultural influence in developing the child’s capacity
for self-transcendence:

The true community makes demands on
children for socialization, and the parent is allowed
another role altogether. Apart from community, the parent or
teacher is attempting to get the child to do something. He
or she is failing to orient that child to the circumstance
of community, in which these demands are made by the
community as a whole. When demands for socialization are
made by the community, it is much more amusing and
interesting for a child. It is also necessary. If a child is
to truly socialize his life, he must adapt to the demands
that are communicated to him through many intimacies,
through the agency of community—and not simply to the
demands communicated by a parent who for some apparently
arbitrary reason wants him to do such and such a thing. The
parent or teacher should be an agent of the community’s
demand. At some point the child must begin to recognize and
value the sacred community. All the people who in one way or
another make demands on him should be viewed by the child as
agents of that community. In that case, his relationship to
them is much more humorous. In other words, the whole field
of individuals in which he lives and matures is then
understood by him to be a kind of game of development. When
he sees himself in relation to a game of development, then
he can play it. It is no longer merely an arbitrary demand
for control. Therefore, what you must do is literally to
displace the “parent game,” the exclusive bond of intimacy
and authority that leads to characterize the parent-child
relationship, and orient children toward community life. In
that case, the disciplines that are required are much, much
easier to maintain from the child’s point of view. It is not
a dilemma. (from “Childhood as a Game of Development”,
1975)

There is much understanding and
healing, self-inspection and blessing, that must occur in
order for this culture of expectation to come alive. A
community of devotees actively involved in making
cooperative agreements in relation to the children’s culture
creates a cultural structure wherein children do not need to
resort to the unhappy strategies of the separate self.
Instead, they can turn to the structure and Wisdom provided
for them.

The vision of cooperative community
is the truly humanizing and ultimately spiritualizing
structure of human life. In traditional cultures in which
children are characteristically happy, emotionally strong,
calm, and sensitive, what stands out is the community’s
embrace of every child, as well as the culture as a whole
valuing intimacy above independent achievement. In such
cultures children are not regarded as an independent segment
of the culture, and therefore there is no distinction
enforced “between authority (or the adult world) and
children (or those who are supposed to be followers or
duplicators of the ideal)”. (“No Praise, No Blame”) Only
such an integrated structure of culture—one that
recognizes the inherent enjoyment of intimacy with children
and allows for emotional vulnerability, bodily intimacy, and
free exchange of Life-Force among all members of the
culture—can humanize children and so prepare them for a
spiritual Way of life.

Ice Cream & Shoe

The Initiation of the Challenging
Force

Adi Da: The growth process is one in
which the individual is progressively differentiated and
granted his or her independence, but not presumed to have
that independence completely until he has also demonstrated
the concomitant responsibilities. We must familiarize the
child with the world as he grows, and look to place him in a
position of sympathetic contact with the total world more
and more every day. When you see that the child is
established comfortably in that level of contact, then allow
it, grant it, presume it. At the same time, expect and
demand that the child behave responsibly within that sphere
of contact with the universe. You must give children lessons
as well as freedom. (“Children Must Be Liberated”,
8/5/78)

If our service to them is to be more
than conventional child care, it must be founded in
recognition of their inherent spiritual nature. Our children
depend upon us for instruction in and demonstration of the
devotee’s disposition of Blessing, the personal disciplines,
and meditative and devotional practices. If we provide this
demonstration, they can be naturally and gracefully
attracted to the happy life of Communion with the Spiritual
Master in God.

The toddler stage, which generally
takes place between eighteen and thirty-six months,
characterizes that part of the first stage of life in which
the child needs to differentiate physically from the mother.
It is the time when energy and attention begin to be
loosened from the child’s preoccupation with dependence on
the mother for sustenance and begin to become available for
intimacy with a more expanded sphere of relations. It is
therefore the time during which adults must introduce the
simple beginnings of morality in
relationship—responsibility for love in the toddlers’
actions in the world.

Adi Da points out in His essay and
commentary, “Education, or My Way of Schooling In the Seven
Stages of Life,” that “Spiritual Communion, Communion with
the Living Force, is based on individuation, on your knowing
that you are there participating in and surrendering into
it.” Prior to the first year and a half of the child’s life,
he or she will have been almost exclusively exposed to the
nurturing or sustaining force of life, primarily via the
mother. Adults have not expected the child to take
responsibility for his reactions to life’s frustrations.
However, at about eighteen months the child enters a new
stage of expansion, accompanied by a growing sense of
separation from what is not self. In the beginning, this
awakened sense of individuality may cause the child to react
by randomly or regularly waking up at night crying, or even
screaming, for no apparent reason. Also, the child discovers
“No” as an expression of his independence. This emerging
willfulness and sense of self coincides with the child’s
exploring and socializing capacities.

Adi Da points out that willfulness,
while clearly the sign of a developing ego, and a more
independent being, can be a regressive movement in a child,
one that works against his real responsibility for himself
by placing him In the “omnipotent infant”
position:

There comes a time with children,
somewhere in the neighborhood of two and a half years of
age, when you must present a will to them stronger than
theirs. Otherwise they will become omnipotent infants, and
will actually regress. Their willfulness is not progressive,
but regressive, a way to preserve their infantilism, the
mommy-baby level of existence. Willfulness is a way of
standing off and it works against their real growth.
Therefore, you must propose a will that is stronger than
their own, you must require things of them. This does not
mean to suppress them. Never suppress children, but do
become more strongly willful and make demands of them.
Particularly at this age, break them out of the omnipotent
infant game which they will tend to animate. This helps them
to move on, to grow.

Children are always naturally
expanding from the egg level. They are becoming more and
more socialized, more and more capable of expanded relations
and expanded functioning, expanded activity. One of the
liabilities of the usual mommy/daddy game that we play with
children is that it prevents them from expanding, from
socializing, from breaking out of the infantile mode. Thus,
we must grant our children the freedom of engaging relations
outside the parent bond. One of the virtues of living in
community is that there are many individuals with whom our
children can associate—many talents, many qualities.
Thus, we must not “own” our children. We must be sensitive
to them and let them be free and not create the neurosis
that all of you are obliged to deal with in your twenties,
thirties, forties and beyond. Even In the best of
circumstances, everyone will have these frozen
characteristics, the problems that belong to infancy,
childhood, and adolescence. Nevertheless, our motive should
be to create the most ideal circumstance possible for our
children. They have their own karmas, you see, so you can
not perfect them no matter how well you raise them, but your
basic intent should be to provide them, through real
sensitivity, with the best or the most optimum circumstance
for their continuous growth throughout their childhood and
adult life. (from an talk, 11/27/82)

Adi Da describes the toddler age as
a time when parents must begin to release the child into
association with the larger culture:

At the age of two we really begin to
observe this socializing tendency. That tendency is a
reflection of the sense of independence or
self-consciousness that the child has, the sense that he no
longer must be identical to the mother—he does not need
the mother as he did as an infant. He has a relationship to
the mother, but also on a certain level he is free, and
therefore wants to become familiar with other things and
people. The age of three is another important moment, in
which children begin to say things quite spontaneously and
parents begin to remark about how mature the child looks and
so forth, how they suddenly seem to have grown up. You begin
to have a feeling about them sometime around this age that
they are independent in a way they never were before, and
you are not in the mood any longer to indulge their
infantilism. You may have the sense that they should be a
lot more grown up, even though it is not quite
true.

These are all signs that the child
does not need you as a parent in the same way he did before.
He needs a different kind of relationship to you in which he
has more freedom but also more responsibility. You must make
the lesson of responsibility at that age, when the moral
growth of the truly human character should begin. From that
point the child should be granted more contact with a larger
society in the best of circumstances, where many women share
responsibility for children. There should be a more formal
approach to his learning and also a more formal approach to
his responsibilities in relation to other people and in
relation to the things with which he has contact. At the age
of three, then, children need more demands placed on them,
while at the same time they need acknowledgment of their
relative freedom from the mother-child game. (“Children Must
Be Liberated”, (8/5/78).

When the child does awaken to a felt
sense of individuation at the beginning of the toddler age,
he or she may engage behaviors which psychologists call
“rapprochement,” or “re-approaching” of the mother. The
growing sense of separation and individuality is
disorienting, and the child seeks reassurance from the
mother. The mother should certainly give the child the
assurance he or she needs, while not insisting on giving
more mothering than is actually required. In this way, room
is made for the father force to enter the child’s life and
mature him. This in no way means that the motherly or
sustaining force should be removed from the child’s life.
Adi Da points out that “children need intimacy as the
constant occasion of their existence.” The nurturing force
should be full, but the responsibility to be Happy, and to
resort to relationship, must begin to shift from others to
self at the toddler age. The agency of this transition is
the father force. To the degree that the parent is not free
of his or her own childhood wounds, he or she will tend to
reinforce the sense of separation and bondage to the parent
cult by trying to console the child, rather than requiring
self-transcendence and resort to inherent Happiness.

Adi Da: Women and men must grow up
spiritually and humanly, and then relate to children rightly
and not make a self-indulgent neurotic connection with them.
Women tend to have relationships with children that are
expressions of their neurosis. A woman, in her feeling of
being unloved, becomes attached to her child in the same way
that little old ladies become attached to their poodles. She
feels there is an inherent bond of love. The child loves
her, and that feeling is more important for the woman than
the fact that she loves the child. She loves the child, but
that love is largely dependent on her receiving signs that
she is loved by the child. Women particularly use their
relationship to the child in this way. They feel inherently
loved by the child and indulge him or her in various ways
merely to keep the child in a mood in which the child
expresses the signs that the woman interprets to be love.
Thus, the woman, who basically has a neurotic problem about
feeling loved, indulges in this relationship with the child,
who she feels loves her. She does not really serve the
child’s development into adulthood. She keeps the child in a
rather infantile, animal-like state, like the poodle. She
indulges the child and does everything she can to keep the
child in a good mood, attracted to her as mother, shining
innocently at her, and so forth. She rarely considers what
the child needs for his or her development. (“The Dynamic of
the Two-Man Con”, 4/18/84).

Adi Da also compassionately explains
the origin of this lack of service:

You must love everyone, but you are
in love with only certain people with whom you enjoy a
special intimacy. When we fall in love with children we feel
an extraordinary passion. This is why people fail so often
at being parents. They do not rightly serve the future of
their children because of this love-connection. They do not
relinquish attachments.

Parents—both mother and
father—are inherently in love with their children. The
mother Is especially in love with her son or daughter. There
is no question about it. The child might as well be a
stranger, you see. The child is a stranger who fell out of
her body. But she is in love with this person. In Love! Just
as she is with her husband. It is not sexual. It is a
profound love-connection. Parents must know what serves
their children so that they will relinquish the clinging
tendencies of this love-attachment for the sake of their
children. (“I Love Everyone with This Passion”,
5/8/84).

Thus the toddler age is the time in
which the dynamic of “two-man con” or the play between
nurture and challenge, which is the principle of growth, is
set in motion via the introduction of the challenging or
fatherly force.

Adi Da: I have spoken about the
“two-man con” in the world of salesmanship. My father used
it, in fact—not at all to swindle people, but simply as
part of the process of persuasion.

This is how it works: Two men with
entirely different qualities approach the people they are
trying to persuade. One plays something like the feminine
role of being on the side of the people to whom they are
making the sale. He is very sympathetic with them,
communicating a sense that he might be able to influence the
other guy, who plays the male role, hard-line, hard-edged,
pressing them to make a decision.

Although this dynamic is frequently
used in salesmanship, the principle is taken out of life.
This same dynamic is what persuades us, moves us on, makes
us grow. It may take the form of conflict, but it is
intended to work creatively. These two principles are
present in every aspect of our lives. One is nurturing,
supportive, and connects us to everything, makes us feel
loved, makes us feel familiar, and evokes the loving,
radiant disposition in us. The other makes the demand,
frustrates us, evokes the capacity in us to overcome an
obstacle, deal with ourselves, deal with what is difficult,
move into new areas of experience and so on. (“The Dynamic
of the Two-Man Con”).

The father force must be a
consistent factor in the child’s life, but it must be
brought artfully and sensitively. If the father force is
brought too soon or too suddenly the child will interpret it
as unlove, but if it is not brought strongly enough, growth
is stunted. The transition from dependence on others for
sustenance and nurturing to the capacity to receive and
accept challenge, a “non-negotiable” demand, without
collapsing into the mood of betrayal, begins around eighteen
months and can mature at the age of four, if the demand has
been brought to the child consciously, compassionately, and
consistently. In other words, a child may be capable of
receiving an absolute demand without feeling unloved and
betrayed by the age of four if he or she has been rightly
disciplined.

In the beginning, the adult will
have to attract the child into consenting to receive the
demand for practice. Once a two-year-old was sitting at
lunch with her mother, surrounded by other ladies, one of
whom was a teacher at her school. When the teacher pointed
out to the girl that she was not eating the cauliflower she
had been given, the girl replied, “I don’t like it. It
doesn’t taste good.” The teacher tried coaxing the girl, in
effect focusing the girl’s attention on doing something she
didn’t want to do. Then, remembering the Master’s injunction
to draw children into the love-relationship, the teacher
began to invoke the girl’s feeling-service. She pretended to
listen to the cauliflower, and told the girl somberly, ‘The
cauliflower says she’ll cry if you don’t eat her.” Just
then, the girl’s mother finished her lunch and was getting
up to leave. The girl called out, “Wait! I have to eat this
cauliflower!” and promptly ate it happily.

There may be times when a child
needs to be drawn into the challenge through negotiation,
i.e., your help in exchange for their cooperation. For
example, if a child has been asked to finish a plate of food
he doesn’t like, and he will not consent immediately, it is
fine for the adult to step back from the demand and offer
help In deciding which of the foods he definitely has to eat
and how much and if he can then have an extra bite of
something he does like. The point of stepping back from or
softening a demand you have already forcefully made, or
making a “deal”, is to allow the children to feel their
relationship with you, and to allow you to re-initiate the
challenge at the highest level at which they are able to
receive it and actually practice. Such a gesture also
communicates the graciousness of God. If the force of the
demand has been too strong because you forgot to exercise
humor and compassion, feel free to change the situation and
to assert your own vulnerability. Children react when they
have lost intimacy. Let them feel your love so that your
demand doesn’t come off as an impersonal decree that they
don’t know how to cope with and will tend to collapse in the
face of.

Adi Da reminds us: It is not easy
for a child to recognize what is valuable in the midst of
the bombardment of experience which anyone encounters during
childhood. If we are to help children to realize that
intimacy is the primary value, then love must prevail in the
child’s life. Only in this way can intimacy be brought into
the foreground of his or her experience If the pleasure of
intimacy is absent, if love is not freely given, then the
child is automatically reduced to manipulative, reactive
efforts to attain love and attention. (Look at the Sunlight
on the Water, p. 66.)

Summary Points

1. The growth process is one in
which the individual is progressively differentiated and
granted his or her independence, coincident with
demonstrated responsibility.

2. You must propose a will stronger
than the child’s. Otherwise, regression results.

3. Children need intimacy as the
constant occasion of their existence.

4. At the age of three, children
need more demands placed on them.

5. Prior to the toddler age,
nurturing is the only force actively brought to a
child.

6. With the event of the challenging
force in the child’s life, the dynamic of the “two-man con,”
nurture-challenge, is set in motion.

7. The father, or challenging, force
must be artfully and sensitively introduced and increased.
This is to be done consistently, constantly, and
compassionately.

8. A non-negotiable demand can begin
to be given at the toddler age and, if applied artfully
throughout ages two and three, can be fully received by age
four.

The Culture of
Expectation

based on a talk, 6/20/82, (Look at
the Sunlight on the Water)

Children must be “up against”
themselves. They must be involved in self-transcendence.
Unless parents begin to educate their children according to
the principles of this Way in the early years of life, they
will turn out to be the usual rebellious adolescents. Most
of the time teachers and parents let the children “off the
hook.” Almost all children have a complete self-orientation,
pursuing their own amusement, their own vitality, except
when adults demand a little bit of them now and then. The
discipline of self-transcendence must be obliged constantly!
It is frequently being abandoned by children because parents
and teachers abandon it themselves. Because the adults do
not consistently bring the discipline to their own lives,
they also do not bring it to the children. They tend to
think that every child’s life must be play, amusement, and
pleasantries, but that is just the usual life of
Narcissus.

The children’s condition of
existence must be one in which they are obliged to live with
sensitivity. They must be obliged to be relaxed, they must
be obliged to practice service in all relations, and they
must be sensitive to and mindful of one another. They need
to learn to serve others consistently as a real
responsibility. Children must only occasionally be allowed
play that engages their vitality vigorously. Of course, it
is not that they should never have physical activities or
play. But the kind of play in which they are allowed to be
just little vital creatures should be available to them only
like an occasional “dessert.” As with adults, so with
children. If adults do not enter seriously into the process
of spiritual practice, then they will not oblige their
children to do so either. Thus children tend to be happy
little superficial egos who cannot be responsible when they
are confronted with the real facts of existence. As soon as
children begin to feel our demands or feel that life itself
is a demand, then there is nothing but reactivity from
them.

Children should express a feeling,
quiet energy. Therefore, adults must introduce a “culture of
expectation” for children and maintain it. And it must be
maintained to be effective! They tend to think they are
supposed to make life casually pleasant for children. This
is not true. Every time a child dramatizes his or her
particular strategy to gain the attention of others, he or
she should be confronted with a definite expectation—an
expectation that is not superficially enjoyable, so that the
child will be made to see his or her own Narcissistic
activity. Children must come to understand that they may be
required to do things that they may not want to do. In other
words, children must be given the structure in which to
learn about both pleasure and pain. If children only lead a
life of play, they will never be impressed by truly moral
circumstances, nor will they be impressed with the total
world of the Divine Reality. They will not see significant
things about themselves—except their vital
game—and this does not serve them. The being grows
through confrontation, difficulty, and demand. Children are
very repetitive. They repeat the same vital games day after
day. Where are the new signs of their adaptation, where is
their higher growth?

We must be consistent in our service
to children all day long. There must be this true or moral
demand. Never step aside from it. If we consistently change
our expectations of children, they will not change!
Introduce requirements and discipline children if they do
not meet them. Do this in the midst of a life of loving
intimacy, for intimacy is the healing principle. Children
must learn to be calm all day long, whatever they are doing.
Adults make them stressful by allowing or encouraging them
to lead a self-oriented vital life, and in this sense their
play is disturbed. Calmness is pleasant, whole-body feeling
is pleasurable. Children’s wild, vital play is actually
disturbing them, and they become dependent on feeling
disturbed. They feel it is necessary for happiness, whereas
it is a calm, balanced, feeling life that is truly
pleasurable. We must help children become sensitive to other
people and teach them how to cooperate and serve in all
their relations. Also, children should learn to bring
feeling and sensitivity to the meditative exercise, as given
in What to Remember to Be Happy, and to other devotional
practices appropriate to their stage of life. These
activities serve the process of the child’s relationship to
the Mystery of existence.

One child recently boasted, “I am
supposed to remember the names of the characters in the
Disney book One Hundred and One Dalmatians.” Children should
not be given such trivial education. An assignment such as
this is the equivalent of junk food in the diet. Thus far,
their diet is actually better than their moral training.
This random moral instruction of them is the equivalent of
junk food, whereas they should be talking about spiritual
life, about the Mystery. They should be talking and learning
about spiritual Teachers, and studying moral, religious, and
spiritual stories. Children should be introduced, constantly
and all day long, to a non-ordinary way of life. Find a way
to make their lessons be aligned to the Teaching of Truth
and with this spiritual Way of life. Their lessons should
have moral and spiritual significance, and children should
not be instructed in a way that merely impresses them, but
that truly awakens their understanding.

Another common misunderstanding
relative to children is that parents and teachers often
think children are supposed to feel that they are the center
of everyone’s life, almost to the point where they begin to
think

they are the center of the universe.
There is no reason why anybody should have that tendency
reinforced. Even at a very young age there is no cause for
children to think they are the center of everyone’s world.
They must be brought into relational force with others. They
must be served to move out of their independent
self-involvement into the condition of
relationship.

My Teaching as it applies to
education has been available for many years, but it has not
been used. The situation of children in the community is the
same as that of the adult practitioners. The instructions
are very clear, but nothing changes. Parents and teachers
will sit down with their children and talk to them every now
and then, and have occasional serious considerations with
them, but they never communicate to them a consistent
cultural expectation. Thus, their moral teaching is only
“dessert” to the children and is not really taken into
account. It is only a momentary diversion from the child’s
life of vitalizing.

In the usual life of children
everything is play, and they are very lazy when it comes to
service. There is an inconsistent demand placed on them
without proper consequences for their actions. They are
constantly involved with their superficial egoic dramas,
instead of being calm, considerate individuals. In a
traditional setting children would attend a brahmacharya
school and live a completely regimented life under very
severe discipline, with play as an occasional diversion. In
modern American society, play is a way of life. The ultimate
ideal is to be totally self-involved and even make your
living out of being self-involved.

In traditional spiritual societies,
however, play was considered a “dessert.” Teachers and
parents fail to understand this. They constantly return to
the “life-as-play” idea. Because their demands are not
consistent, the children escape the edge of discipline
necessary for true human growth. Children should not be
permitted to casually leap around and vitalize. That kind of
play should be a “dessert.” The basic life of a child should
be quiet and sensitive. It should be a learning process, an
intuitive life of positive feeling and free energy and
attention. If children’s intuitive capacity is developed at
an early age, they will not suffer from, and have to deal
with, the usual self-centered orientation in their later
lives.

There should not be a lot of wild,
vital play. Children do not know anything about true play!
We have to consciously introduce them to play. We have to
teach them in a way that is a balanced expression of
whole-body equanimity. Otherwise children use play as a form
of self-possession.

Unfortunately, parents and teachers
bring this kind of discipline to children only occasionally,
whereas it must be maintained constantly. It must be obliged
all day long. A child’s life should not be anything that
adults are committed to in their own childish and adolescent
strategies. Adults as well as children are committed to
vital stimulation, amusement, and distraction; this is the
way most people are driven to live. It is already a big deal
for people to put aside an hour for meditation. Therefore,
meditation cannot serve any useful purpose, because as soon
as the hour is over they either return to their stressful
life of “getting things done” or to their self-indulgence of
random vitalizing. Thus, no real energy is brought to the
practice of spiritual life or to the creation of true
community.

If adults fail to bring this
discipline to their own lives and to their children, then
they give their children no gift. If there is no discipline
of expectation for children, then adults are performing a
total disservice to them. In the life of every child there
must be calmness, sensitivity, and behavioral
appropriateness. And the key to the fulfillment of this
expectation is to vigorously maintain it all day long, every
day, throughout the childhood years. Only then is the
child’s energy and attention free to feel and participate in
the Mystery of existence.

There is a basic principle that
should be the underlying structure in the life of every
child: Strict cultural discipline, maintained consistently
for a very long time. During childhood that is basically how
children should be served. Their casual play and vitalizing
should be restricted in a disciplined culture of
expectation, while they learn to fully adapt to the
responsibilities of the second and third stage and the laws
of mature human life. People have to make a turnabout
relative to the way they serve their children and what they
expect their lives to be. If you were to maintain this
discipline over many years, you would see a profound change
in the children—but it has to be maintained. If people
would seriously approach this Teaching and use the wisdom
that is given, then a very different level of maturity can
emerge in the lives of their children.

Unfortunately, people do not want to
deal rigorously with themselves. They want life to be a
constant diversion, not a discipline. And when they choose a
life of discipline, they tend to spend most of their time
with their reactions. People have to learn how to generate
discipline from their own Place. Instead of being
hyperactive and exploiting life, they have to become
sensitive, calm, and observant. This is the best way for an
adult to live, and likewise it is the best way to raise and
educate children. Establish a disciplined spiritual culture
of expectation, and oblige children to its demands and
responsibilities. Otherwise, by the time they are twenty,
they will only be self-involved chippies and punks, like
every other self-centered adolescent, suffering and
screaming their brains loose. Why bring them up for
that?

Summary Points

1. Children must be constantly
obliged to transcend themselves. Otherwise, they develop a
self-orientation that leads to conventional
adolescence.

2. Children must be obliged to be
relaxed, to practice service in all relations, and to be
sensitive to and mindful of one another. If children only
lead a life of play, they will not see significant things
about themselves, and they will not grow.

3. We must be consistent in our
service to children all day long. If we consistently change
our expectations of them, they will not change.

4. Children should be talking and
learning about spiritual teachers and studying moral,
religious, and spiritual stories.

5. Children should be served to move
out of their self-involvement into the condition of
relationship.

6. Because of our conventional
life-as-play idea, children escape the edge of discipline
necessary for true human growth.

7. If children’s intuitive capacity
is developed at an early age, they will not have to suffer
the usual self-centered orientation in their later
years.

8. Children need to be instructed to
play in a way that is an expression of whole-body
equanimity. Otherwise, they use play as a form of
self-possession.

Session Two

A Disciplined Life Is about
Enjoyment

One of the reasons we tend to shrink
from discipline is that we ourselves do not want to submit
to a disciplined life, and thus we have the idea that a
formal, disciplined, orderly life is dull, gloomy, and
restrained. And we pass this idea onto our children in
subtle and overt ways, letting them “off the hook,” just as
we indulge ourselves. Discipline and order, however, are
simply the right context of ecstasy, the environment in
which energy and attention are free for intimacy, true
pleasure, God-love. Spiritual life is not about being “neat,
skinny, and right.”(I Am Happiness, p. 55.) It is about the
“infinite pleasure of love.” In this session we will
continue to consider the necessity of a disciplined life for
children and its means.

Spiritual Discipline as the
Structure of Life

(excerpts from a talk by Adi Da,
12/12/81.)

I notice that children often do not
show signs of real interest in anything in the universe.
They often act very dull, as if they are completely
uninvolved and unenthusiastic about anything in the universe
at all. This is a sign that they are only involved in
dramatizing their egoic dilemma. They must become involved
in studying and doing something that is of great and
challenging interest to them. Otherwise, they are all just a
bunch of “low-brows.” And children should not be confined in
their discipline—their life must be about something.
The difficulties children express are not always a matter of
a lack of discipline. What you must do is put their
attention on something other than themselves and their
problems. You must begin to attract them into other areas of
existence and oblige them to stop dramatizing their egoic
psychology. Discipline should be the structure of
life—that is all there is to it. Children have to know
where they stand, and they have to know what is expected of
them. Any child who dramatizes a rebellious, punk, egoic
strategy must be served immediately. It is not to be
permitted. They must know that anything contrary to the
discipline of true spiritual Practice is not acceptable. A
disciplined life is not merely not doing certain things, but
it is about enjoyment. It is about enjoyment with people and
things with which they are interested. You must divert
children from vital, ritualistic, imitative games of
jealousy and power, in which they are merely reinforcing a
worldly psyche that will only make them conventional
adolescents when they enter the third stage of life. They
must very clearly understand what the disciplines are. In
fact, write the disciplines that they are responsible for on
charts on the wall and make sure they know exactly what
their responsibility is every day. They should know exactly
what they have to do, and they should just do it. They must
be taught that the root of discipline is Happiness, Ecstasy,
and God-Communion, and they must learn how to express their
life as enjoyment through the disciplines. Children should
not always be with adults. When I was young, from about age
six on, I was hardly ever around adults. It is true that
children need supervision, they need help, and they need the
discipline and guidance of adults, but part of the problem
dramatized by children is the lack of ability to live
freely. Living freely, however, must take place in a
structure of understanding and sanity. Thus, granting them
freedom to do new things should be part of their education.
Part of your acknowledgment of them is that they can be
responsible for themselves. They are given freedom only on
the basis of living the moral and practical disciplines of
their spiritual life. Thus, the more disciplined they are
and the saner they are, the more freedom they can have. This
freedom is not about children wandering around together
whenever they want, but it is about being able to spend time
alone, being able to do different things by themselves where
they are not always observed. Children should not feel that
they are always being observed, perpetually under the eye of
an adult. They must understand that if they show the signs
of responsibility and live the disciplines appropriate to
their stage of development, they can be given access to such
freedom. The activities that children enjoy should only be
allowed when they show the signs of this responsibility in
their disciplined life. Thus, their life is fundamentally
based on the incidents and activities that they enjoy, on a
life of intimacy and happiness, but it is also rounded on a
life of structured discipline. If they are not disciplined,
then the enjoyable aspects of their lives are not granted.
This is a very basic psychology in serving children. This is
the way they must begin to live.

Summary Points

1. Dullness and lack of enthusiasm
in children is a sign that they are only involved in
dramatizing their egoic dilemma. They must he involved in
study and activities that are interesting and
challenging.

2. Discipline should be the
structure of life. A disciplined life is about real
enjoyment. Children must be taught that the root of
discipline is Happiness, Ecstasy, and God-Communion, and
they must learn how to express their life as enjoyment
through the disciplines.

3. Children should understand that
freedom is granted on the basis of responsibility. The
activities they enjoy should only be allowed when they are
founded in a disciplined life.

Discipline Is the Means of Adapting
to the Laws of Life

(excerpt from a talk,
1/5/76)

Student: Adi Da, we tend to be
afraid to discipline our children. We think that it’s going
to stunt their growth or that they are not going to be free
and able to express their freedom.

Adi Da : Individuals have a negative
idea of what discipline is, as if it were always a matter of
preventing a child from doing something. Real discipline is
the providing of conditions through which children may adapt
to the laws of life. It is not hand slapping. Punishment is
one form of discipline. Punishment, however, is only useful
when you already have the love and confidence of a child. In
that case, stopping them from doing something works as a
discipline because they feel the possibility of separation
from you. The basis of such discipline is natural affection,
not their dislike of you or your dislike of them. When
discipline is not based on love, a shock is created between
the child and the adult so that the Life-Force cannot flow
between them. If that occurs, you must temporarily remove
the child from the situation and allow him to be in a
restful, easeful condition. When there is real conflict
between an adult and a child, basically you must take them
out of one another’s company for a little while in order to
serve them.

Children and the Vital Dimension of
Life

(based on conversations with Adi
Da)

All relationships are forms of
spiritual Practice. All relationships, all experiences, are
conditions in which to understand, conditions in which to
fulfill the obligations of spiritual life. It is useful to
learn how to deal with children because they represent
something in you that you are reluctant to encounter and
transcend. The vital dimension of life is what you are
reluctant to deal with, and children are very vital beings.
They do not fundamentally represent much else. Whenever the
opportunity arises to interact with the vital dimension of
life, we usually become complicated and disturbed. Where the
force of life is manifest to us, we are required to make
choices. When we confront a child or a forceful person or a
dramatic event that demands response from us, we are put in
contact with the vital dimension in ourselves and all the
complications that it represents. Learning how to live with
a baby or with children is a great lesson, therefore. It is
not simply the lesson of tolerating the disturbance they can
create for you. It is a matter of really learning how to
live with children. In the process you will also serve the
undoing of the point of view of vital shock in your own
case. All relationships are useful conditions for spiritual
Practice because they all bring you to life, whereas the
discipline conceived in isolation as a self-effort leading
toward a goal does not involve the confrontation with life,
does not involve the undoing of vital shock. Rather, it
involves the exploitation of your need to escape the
implications of vital life.

Summary Points

1. The vital dimension of life is
what we are reluctant to deal with. We usually become
complicated and disturbed when the force of life is manifest
to us and we are required to make choices.

2. Learning how to live with a baby
or with children is a great lesson. All relationships are
useful conditions for spiritual Practice because they bring
you to life.

Self-Transcendence Is a Necessity
from the Beginning

(from a talk by Adi Da,
11/23/80)

Many of the so-called games that
children play are ways of reinforcing attitudes and
behaviors that are relatively negative. If you watch
children playing spontaneously, you will notice that they
usually play and are animated by power games and neurotic
self-ideas. A great deal of what we call spontaneous play on
the part of children is really not spontaneous. It is rather
mechanical exploitation of the problems they have.
Therefore, the most useful form of bringing up children is
one that constantly helps and obliges them to bypass
neurotic patterns of self-involvement. In traditional
religious communities, therefore, the upbringing of children
was relatively formal. Formality, however, does not
eliminate the possibility of spontaneous, happy play. It
does require children to deal with formal demands and adapt
to them rightly, rather than blithering along
“spontaneously.” Children must deal with real conditions,
real demands, and overcome their own limitations.

I can observe karmic personality
characteristics in an infant. I am sure you all can observe
these characteristics, too. They are there from the very
beginning. These qualities are not acquired through the
child’s social life or through their childhood experience.
Their childhood reinforces those qualities, adds a certain
emphasis here and there, but there is a karmic personality
present from the beginning. Therefore, from the very
beginning of a child’s life, a useful education is one that
enables him to transcend himself. It is not that you are
obliged to overcome yourself only when you are older. The
karmic limitations of personality are there to be overcome
from infancy. That is why I have spent so much time
considering with you all how to rightly educate children in
the first three stages of life and help them to overcome
limitations, require them to adapt, to really grow, so that
when they are adults, they are not the usual neurotic
individuals who must seek from scratch for the meaning and
force of existence.

In the case of an individual who is
uncommon, highly developed spiritually or psychically, there
should be signs that you may observe in them relatively
early in life. For them the same education that is
appropriate for all children in the religious culture is
appropriate. However, your observation of them will cause
you to serve them in a somewhat different manner, perhaps,
to encourage the sensitivity you have observed. When you
notice a child with a certain dimension of spiritual
qualities—and the freedom that represents—you will
not want to suppress those qualities through conventional
demands for certain kinds of behavior or personal qualities.
There are some individuals—tulkus in the Tibetan
tradition, for example—who are actually in the stream
of helping in the world in some fundamental sense, who have
transcended the ego base already. They are inserted into
this lifetime, therefore, for a fundamental spiritual
purpose, rather than the conventional, mechanical purposes
of an ego. If someone is observed to have these qualities,
then serve the development of the life that they are here to
live. Whenever we notice an individual of this type, we will
consider what should be done differently with
them.

In any case, all the children should
be brought up in the essential formality of true culture.
You must be sensitive to them as individuals to see what
neurotic patterns we must help them work beyond, as well as
what exceptional qualities we must draw out. Exceptional
qualities might appear in terms of ordinary human
capabilities, and if we observe those in children, we will
help them to develop these capabilities. Likewise, ask all
the children about their dreams and about their visions. The
“eyes and ears” exercise in What to Remember to Be Happy, in
which the children practice inversion and seeing things at
the level of the psyche, should not be merely a game in
which they make up things to tell you. Children do see all
kinds of things and dream all kinds of things. You can
condition them to not see certain things, to believe that
certain things are unreal and to have a Westerner’s state of
mind about it all, but if you do not implant them with that
limitation, you will observe them communicating about a
psychic life.

It is true that before puberty the
being often has more of this free, psychic life. At puberty
a certain force of physical existence begins to manifest,
and the psychic life recedes, but this is not to be viewed
as a negative event. It is simply a characteristic of our
development. It is generally true that the state of the
psyche changes at that time, and the glandular system
operates differently. At puberty, the pituitary body, the
sexual hormones, and all the related growth mechanisms begin
to come very strongly into play. Previous to that time the
subtler features of the endocrine glands and the pineal body
are in dominance, and thus there is more free psychism.
Therefore, it is true that children, if you avoid
conditioning them in the limited terms of conventional
Western thinking, have a kind of psychic life that they can
communicate about. The exercise in What to Remember to Be
Happy is intended to enable children to be communicative
about their psychic existence. When children are
communicative in that way, you have an opportunity to
observe their characters in a way that you could not perhaps
otherwise observe. In this case, you have the opportunity to
discover which among the children have more of this
extraordinary dimension active in them, and you can
acknowledge it and help to support it throughout their
lifetime.

——————————————————————————————————————————–

Four Primary Principles of Conscious
Childrearing

Chapter Three

The Principle of
Attraction

By Means Of The Way I Will Describe
To you, I Will Attract All To The Divine Happiness and, At
Last, I Will Carry All To The Divine Domain. (The
Testamental Hymn of the Master.)

Session One

Inappropriate Behavior Is Simply the
Sign of the Failure of Intimacy

This session addresses a critical
point that must be understood by all parents, teachers, and
guides. It is that signs of frustration, reactivity, and
inappropriate behavior in children or young people are
indications of a failure of human intimacy—the failure
of the principal adult individuals in a young person’s life
to engage him or her in an effectively loving relationship.
Intimacy, or the real enjoyment of relationship, is the
ground of the principle of attraction. Every being is
naturally attracted to relations—to other beings and
things. The first and strongest attraction the child enjoys
is, of course, to his or her human mother. It is a
relationship of pleasure, consolation, and sustenance, which
is necessary for growth. As he grows, the child also
naturally feels the desire, the necessity, to move beyond
this attachment. This occurs naturally through the
relationship to the father, other individuals, Nature, and
the Divine Mystery. In every child there is also the natural
urge to ecstasy, an attraction at the heart that leads the
being not merely beyond attachments, but beyond itself. Love
and worship of the Divine is as natural a human need as
intimacy with others and Nature. Therefore, we need not
attempt to willfully or stressfully turn our children to the
Mystery or to the Spiritual Master and His Transcendental
Presence. We must simply and naturally, through our
whole-bodily enjoyment of our own relationship with the
Divine Presence, become a window to It and thus an
attractive spiritual influence in our children’s lives.
However, the reaction that is vital shock constantly leads
attention away from what is attractive. The consolations and
distractions of conventional, self-possessed living are what
children resort to unless the Way of submission to the
Divine as Spiritual Master and Transcendental Presence is
felt by them as a more attractive offering. Children will
constantly seek pleasure and union through self-exploitation
unless they are drawn, through intimacy, into devotion to
Happiness Itself. They must see the demonstration of and be
distracted and guided into the practice of ecstatic release
of the self-contraction, rather than the temporary
distractions from suffering, which are their usual life. Adi
Da offers us this wisdom:

The secret with children, as with
all human beings, is that everybody stays Happy, ecstatic,
full of pleasure. If you can find the pleasure or the free
attention in a child, then you can redirect him. But if you
confront the aberration that is present in the moment, they
will not come out of it because they have a ritual to
perform. It is the same with everybody. Therefore, the
secret of living is to remain in a state of pleasure. That
is your responsibility. The secret of living with others is
to locate the free attention and essential pleasure in them
and in yourself and redirect them to their sanity by that
means. (Ice Cream & Shoe, p. 5.)

To draw attention exclusively to the
aberrated or problematic behavior of a child always draws
his attention to himself or to the self-contraction. Every
child, like every adult, lives a mechanical ritual of
self-contraction, and it is only intensified when he is
merely confronted with his difficulty. Thus, rather than
confronting and attempting to solve the “problem” of his
behavior, we attract him via intimacy to right action. The
natural enjoyment of the feeling of the Mystery and the
love-relationship with the Spiritual Master are inherent in
every child. We need only provide him with the constant
option of Divine Distraction. This will occur if we awaken
to our native Happiness and pleasure and extend this
opportunity, this bodily Way of Happiness, to our
children.

Adi Da: They [children] will
have some difficulties, but the difficulties should not be
taken seriously. Adults should simply provide them a way out
of their difficulties, and this way is the positive
spiritual and human process altogether. That is the secret.
In every case, draw them into the spiritual process. Do not
let them become involved in all kinds of deep, heavy,
obsessive considerations of their emotional and other
problems. All such problems arise only because children or
young people have been diverted from the process of life, as
it presents itself in terms of the first three stages. If
they are led back into that process, any problem will
naturally fall away, and a state of balance will be
achieved. Thus, rather than keying in on problems, one
should notice and discuss them and draw the individual’s
attention into the right process of living. (LOOK, p.
47)

Session Two

Applying the Principle of
Attraction

In the last session we considered
the principles of the art of attracting children and young
people from their problem presumption and to present
Happiness, intimacy, and relationship. Here, we will study
further Teaching from Adi Da on this principle of attraction
and review practical guidelines for its application in the
home, classroom, or spiritual guide situation.

Adi Da: Basically, there is one
thing that children are reacting to, and that is the absence
of intimacy. Reactive emotions and inappropriate behavior in
general are secondary symptoms of a primary frustration.
What is being frustrated is intimacy, or Life-positive,
associative energy. Thus, you cannot deal with these
secondary, reactive emotions directly, as if they were the
point. What the child is actually suffering is the point,
and that is what must be addressed in him or her. A
circumstance must be provided in which the primary emotion
of love can be expressed or chosen in any moment. (LOOK, pp.
66-7.)


* * *

Adi Da: In their relations, everyone
must draw one another out of the contraction of self into
the field of love, of energy. Therefore, a basic technique
with children is to draw them out of their contraction, out
of their fear, out of their dramatization, and into human
connection. When you do this, then children are not
punished, nor are they full of abstract concepts. When they
are drawn into a love relationship, then they are also
connected to what is Life, what is Divine. (“The Great
Lifetime Illumination”)


* * *

Adi Da: The fundamental orientation
of children must be the intuition of God, the feeling of
Happiness. Otherwise, they suffer the strategic attempt to
perfect their experience. The great Force of Happiness, or
God, that undermines all unHappiness must penetrate their
being. (“The Key to Higher Adaptation”).


* * *

Adi Da: Reattract the child’s
emotional quality when you notice that he or she is becoming
depressed or reactive. You must reattract the emotional
force of that living personality. That is an art of dealing
with infants and children of all ages. (“The Spiritual Art
of Attraction,” unpublished; 10/19/80)

Session Three

Attention and Attraction

In this session we will consider the
mechanism of attention in the dynamics of the relationship
of parents, teachers, and guides with children. We will
consider the “targeting” habit and the skillful means of
effective, reaction-free teaching and will deepen our
understanding of the art of attracting children and young
people to the process of whole-body feeling.

The Art of Spiritual Life

from a talk by Adi Da, 8/13/83
(Crazy Wisdom, Vol. 3, No. 1)

That is the art of spiritual life,
granting attention and following it with total
psycho-physical submission to the Spiritual Reality. People
are not tending to do that, of course, and so attention is
constantly getting locked into problems, conceptions that
are problematic, states that are uncomfortable and
problematic. The art of spiritual life, once you have heard
and seen, is this capacity to be re-devoted in any moment to
the Living Spiritual Reality. To do that you must be
equipped with hearing and seeing, you must be able to
observe and understand yourself, and primarily what there is
to observe is how attention is functioning

Attention is moving toward forms and
conditions, and because the individual is tending to be in
the self-contracted state, attention is moving toward forms
of contraction. These forms of contraction are all the
things that bother you. The ego is bothered, contraction is
a bother, and attention is tending to move toward the
weakest point, the bother, the difficulty in the moment.
However, there is usually nothing in the environment or as
immediate as a physical pain to be bothered about. The mind
produces problematic conceptions. Attention is always
getting locked into these problem states, and thus you are
experiencing contraction, a problem, a limit. You do not
experience the Spiritual Reality, you are not whole, in fact
you are not even aware of the Spiritual Reality. Thus, the
art of spiritual life is to notice this mechanical,
contracted state and be wholly reoriented to the Spiritual
Reality through Remembrance. In other words, in the midst of
a mechanical state that is tending to take on this
contracted form, you must be able to merely notice it, and
rather than working to untie the knot, be reoriented through
devotion, as well as by being artfully responsible for the
mechanics of your activity.

Last night I was talking about the
mind, how the mind itself is contraction. Unless the mind is
informed in the moment by spiritual consideration, it is a
form of contraction, and attention is locked into that
contraction. People are constantly engaged in thinking,
thinking. Thinking is really a conversation you are having
with yourself. Speech is the same thing engaged with others.
That process is a meditation on contraction. The mind is a
problem, it takes the form of a problem. You hope that
thinking will produce release from this contraction, this
problem. You are trying to get free of a knot, an oppressive
sense of existence. You are trying to think your way out of
it, trying to solve a problem, get an answer. And, of
course, occasionally the mind does let loose with some
relieving concept or other, but it always returns to these
contracted states, because the mind is about this
self-perpetuating disease. This disease is as much a lock on
attention as a cramp in the body. If you have pain in the
body, attention dwells on it very directly, or at least
subliminally. Thinking is pain of this kind. It is a
compression of the Living Conscious Force, a suppression of
it, a knot in it, a contraction of its field. Therefore,
this perpetual thinking is pain.

In these moments of chronic thought,
rather than put your attention in that thought process and
try to think your way out of the pain, you should understand
yourself, be able to find yourself out and divert your
attention, submit yourself with full attention to the Living
Reality. Submit yourself whole bodily, release yourself from
the oppression of chronic thinking, chronic conversation
with yourself, Narcissism. The art of spiritual life is a
matter of relocating attention, noticing that attention is
simply dwelling in a contracted state and giving it over to
the Transcendental and All-Pervading Force and Being with
every aspect of the body-mind. This is the direct way of
practicing. Your common technique, however, tends to be
developed on the basis of contraction itself, or egoity
itself. You think and feel that you have a problem, even
though you might not be able to explain just exactly what
that problem is, and you generally try to keep on thinking.
You think and think and think and fret and fret and read and
read and talk and talk and are in pain the whole
time.

I was considering this cramp in the
solar plexus with you the other evening. We were having a
conversation about the yoga of the frontal line. Perhaps the
most common experience people have of contraction in this
frontal line is a cramp over the solar plexus, the “knot in
the stomach” that people refer to. If you become aware that
you are suffering this knot and this anxiety over the solar
plexus, your first resort, by tendency at any rate, will be
to try to relax it. You will take deep breaths and so forth.
That may work if the contraction is rather superficial and
your attention is relatively free, but you may also discover
that you cannot do it, that you cannot relax it. In that
case, you will begin to think some more and work on your
trouble, whereas the most direct way of dealing with it is
to divert attention from this knot, rather than keep
attention in the knot and try to undo it. I suggest to you,
as a practical matter, that instead of keeping your
attention in this knot over the solar plexus and trying to
relax it, you should simply remember that attention goes
wherever the knot is. Attention gravitates toward the
contracted states and becomes fretful, suffers the pain of
these contractions, gets stuck in these contractions and
then tries to work its way out of them, you see. Well, this
knot over the solar plexus is occurring a little more than
halfway down the frontal line of the body. The Current of
life is not descending below that point. The knot over the
solar plexus is a little bit like nausea, the urge to vomit,
weeping, and anger. This contraction is a revulsion, a
reversal of the Current in the frontal line of the body, and
in effect it prevents this line of force from going to its
lower terminal in the bodily base.

One way of naturally relieving this
contraction, in addition to the basic resort that is your
devotional practice, is to place your attention lower down
in the body, below the point where you feel that cramp. If
you place your attention above the point of disturbance, the
revulsion will continue. The most intelligent approach,
therefore, is to place your attention below that point,
where there already is no contraction, you see. Place your
attention below the navel in the vital battery region, in
the genital region, or at the perineum. Do nothing other
than that. Simply place your attention there, and then
practice the meditative disposition, the devotional
disposition, the breathing and relaxing that are your daily
practice You will very likely notice that in those moments
when you otherwise would not be able to release such a
contraction, it will naturally relax, and you will enjoy the
capacity to breathe and feel and submit the total body-mind
to this Fullness. Indeed, this is how conductivity must be
practiced, by submitting yourself to the native disposition
of the body rather than fastening your attention to some
point in the circuit of the body-mind. The way, then, to
submit whole bodily when the body-mind is in a contracted
state is to place your attention lower down in the line of
the frontal Current, place it in the lower abdomen, in the
genital region, in the perineum. In these regions there is
in general a residual sense of pleasure, because there is a
portion of this Current always descending—it does leak
through this knot, you see. Thus, if you place attention in
this pleasurable expression of the Current, the knot, which
is being reinforced by holding attention in this anxious
place, will tend to relax. Then resort to the devotional
disposition, and the practice of conductivity will be found
to be fruitful.

The same wisdom applies to thinking.
Instead of talking to yourself through thought or talking to
others about this contraction through speech-thought and
trying thus to get out of your problems, simply submit
attention to the Living Reality, submit attention with the
total body-mind, or whole bodily. Instead of trying to do
something with thought, simply submit to the Living Current.
Submit yourself to the Feeling of Being. Instead of making
this knot in the head which becomes thinking, let the head
relax into the Living Current. In that case, thoughts will
change, thought becomes an expression of Spiritual
Consciousness. Apart from this submission, thought is only
an expression of the self-contraction that precedes your
thinking activity. If you are going to think at all, you
should think in an already awakened state of natural
submission, so that even your ordinary communications become
a feeling expression, a spiritual sign. There is very little
thinking that has even practical value if you are not in
such a submitted condition. This is why most of the
communications that human beings make to themselves through
thought, and to others through speech, are diseased,
troublesome, angular, and disturbing. Most of the
communications that people make verbally, emotionally, and
physically disturb other people and are evidence that they
themselves are disturbed. Therefore, you must first of all
and in every moment be submitted, and grant attention to the
Spiritual Reality rather than to these knots and
disturbances.

Summary Points

1. The art of spiritual life is to
grant attention, and follow it with total psycho-physical
submission, to the Spiritual Reality.

2. Once you have heard and seen, the
art of spiritual life is the capacity to be re-devoted in
any moment to the Living Spiritual Reality.

3. To do that, you must be equipped
with hearing and seeing. You must be able to observe and
understand yourself.

4. Because the individual is tending
to be in the self-contracted state, attention is moving
toward forms of contraction.

5. Attention is tending to move
toward the weakest point, the difficulty in the
moment.

6. Attention is always getting
locked into problem states.

7. You must be able to merely notice
that attention is tending to take on this contracted form
and, rather than working to untie the knot, be reoriented
through devotion.

8. The art of spiritual life is a
matter of relocating attention—noticing that attention
is simply dwelling in a contracted state and giving it over
to the Transcendental and All-Pervading Force and Being with
every aspect of the body-mind.

9. Your common technique tends to he
developed on the basis of contraction, or egoity
itself.

10. Attention goes wherever the knot
is.

11. Most of the communications that
human beings make to themselves through thought, and to
others through speech, are diseased, troublesome, angular,
and disturbing.

Further Reading:

Adi Da : You tend to exist as a
social personality, and occasionally as this aggravated ego,
and do not truly enter into the domain of Feeling or of
Love. Love one another and there is nothing cool about it.
What I mean by this love for one another is to become
wounded by love, to submit yourself to that, to live in that
world and make your relationships about that. Be vulnerable
enough to love and be loved. If you do this, you will be
wounded by this Love. You will be wounded, but you will not
be diseased. Human beings in general do not want anything to
do with it. They do not want to come close enough to it to
be wounded in their intimacies with one another. You must be
wounded in order to Realize God. You must be wounded to hear
and see. It is felt even physically as a kind of wound. It
is felt as intense, armorless vulnerability. If you can
begin to awaken to this principle, then you will love one
another. Your friendships and your community life will
become possible. You will make a different kind of
community, a true spiritual community, which is a process
that only uniquely free people can enter into. This wound
enlivens you. It releases great force, great energy. It
releases all of the armoring of the usual personality. It
enables you to Love, to be in Love. You must make a
community of Love with one another, a spiritual community.
(“Become Wounded by Love”.)

Session Four

Reattracting Children to the Present
Emotional Force of the Being

Most of us tend to confront the
unacceptable behaviors of children with “knee-jerk”
reactions of various kinds—unconsidered responses
designed to contain and control their vitality. The art of
serving children, however, requires that we respond from an
unproblematic point of view, from love. But this is not yet
our natural response. Therefore, it requires observation and
intention. This session is both inspirational and
practical—it combines ecstatic readings with a
consideration of exactly how you can change your act with
children in order to reattract them to Happiness. Thus, the
dynamic combination of observation and concentration as a
principle of spiritual growth is brought to bear in our
service to young students.

Love of the God-Man

(excerpts from a talk by Adi Da,
10/10/83 (Crazy Wisdom, Vol. 3, No. 1)

What is supremely Attractive in the
manifest universe and in the human world is the God-Man. All
beings, male or female, must become Attracted, Distracted,
by that One. This is the Ultimate Means, the Supreme Means,
the Supreme Yoga. It is for this reason, you see, that the
Divine appears in manifest form in the likeness of those who
are to be drawn out of bondage—but only in their
likeness. It is the Divine that appears in that likeness,
and it is the Divine that is made visible through that
likeness. Those who become capable of recognizing that One
become capable of responding to that Attraction. Those who
become capable of being Distracted by that One become
participants in this Supreme Way, which truly is the Way of
Grace, because it requires no effort at all. It requires
nothing but Grace and the response to it. That response is
not effortful. It is easy. It is easy to respond to what is
Attractive, except for those who refuse to do it. Those who
refuse are bound to the will, are willfully binding
themselves in one form or another, may even be willfully
trying to liberate themselves, willfully trying to love,
willfully trying to understand, willfully trying to buy
their way out of hell and purgatory and take heaven by
storm. Such beings are not responding to the unique
advantage that the God-Man represents.

Those who are Distracted by me are
not merely distracted by this physical form. This form is
simply an Agent for their attention. What they are
Distracted by is the Divine Presence, the Divine Condition,
and they enter into Communion with That, union with That,
unity with That through the real process of spiritual life.
Worldly people want nothing to do with that process and
likewise worldly religionists, scholars, pandits, and
self-possessed guru-figures want nothing to do with it.
Nevertheless, the supreme secret of spiritual life is this
Distraction by the God-Man. But even though it has been made
available in many times and places, it has unfortunately not
been accepted and truly fulfilled by many. The stories of
the gopis and Krishna are rather fanciful and idealized
pictures of what it is like when human beings crave to be
Distracted by the God-Man, when their Distraction is so
great that they would forget their problems and be Happy if
only that One would appear.


* * *

Both men and women must be
Distracted by the God-Man, Distracted by the Divine,
submitting to That which is Attractive, loving that One. By
virtue of that submission they can love one another and
others and this world rightly, in themselves but in the
Divine. If they cannot or will not be Distracted even though
offered such Company, then they cannot get out of purgatory.
At least, they will willfully, or at the self level, engage
the practice of the outwardly associated with the Way. At
worst, they will simply dissociate themselves, convince
themselves that there is no great Distraction, no God,
Truth, and commit themselves to self-indulgence and to the
conventional destiny.


* * *

You cannot idealize this great
Love-feeling and say that, from now on, that is how you are
going to live. You will discover, as you have discovered on
countless occasions previously, that you do not do that. You
cannot merely make it an ideal, in other words. You must
first become involved in love by finding That which is Love,
which comes to you as Love, and which is supremely
Attractive. Acknowledge That One, know That One, and allow
yourself to respond to That One in love. You cannot find
what you are looking for in one another. You must find It in
person, directly. Become the devotee of That One, and you
will find Love everywhere. You will find It in a special way
in your spouse. You will make your marriages out of that
Love disposition when you hear and see me. Then you will
have the means to practice truly.

Thus, it is my purpose to sacrifice
myself, to appear in this hellish domain, in order to make
it into purgatory. But it is not my purpose to live in
purgatory forever, any more than it is my purpose to have
you live in purgatory forever. The purpose of my living is
heavenly or Divine. In other words, I have not come here
simply to suffer your resistance and absorb your
limitations, but to Distract you out of this condition, out
of this place, into the Divine Domain. My purpose is to
awaken you to a disposition of Divine Distraction, in which
you are Ecstatic, free of your limits, inherently sinless,
karmaless, so that without effort you can move with me out
of this limitation, this place of purification and
suffering.

Therefore, there is the wounded
Master in your company, but there is also the Glorious
Master in your company. That wounded one is an instrument
with which to draw you out of yourself so that you may enter
into the Glorious Domain. In order for this to occur, you
must become a devotee.

The Spiritual Art of
Attraction

(excerpts from a talk by Adi Da,
10/19/80)

The free and right functioning of
human existence is determined by one’s emotional state, and
how one relates emotionally to the conditions of existence
directly affects one’s physical state and all of one’s
actions in physical terms. Therefore, all of one’s
functional associations are controlled by the fundamental
force of one’s emotional association, one’s feeling
association, because the feeling association with objects
and others is primary. Feeling association is what dictates
states of mind, perceived emotion, and physical
states.

You can read your emotional state
from moment to moment. You can see how you tend to be
essentially in a contracted emotional state, a dissociative
emotional state, a mediocre emotional state. You are
emotionally vulnerable. We learn this vulnerability because
in infancy and childhood we are made emotionally vulnerable
through infantile learning and through our
education—the intentional education that we are given
by our elders as well as by the society into which we are
injected, which does not basically relate to emotion.
Rather, it relates to mental, physical, and social
adaptations. Therefore, the emotional force of the being is
never truly trained. Instead, it is primitively inhibited by
infantile learning, with the result that in emotional terms
we rarely mature much beyond the infantile state of
reactivity. We go beyond the learning of infancy in terms of
mental and physical adaptation, but emotionally we remain
reactive and relatively infantile.

The emotional force of the being is
like an infant. It has no ability to change merely because
you think differently or because you change your physical
habits. This very primitive emotional reaction was created
prior to the time of sophisticated mental and physical
development. We have accumulated years of physical and
mental development, but the emotional development, the
disposition or range of our emotional existence, was
determined in infancy when we were in a totally
unsophisticated state of perception, at a time when we
perceived things in an exaggerated fashion. The primitive,
infantile emotional reaction is a reaction to the perception
of how things are, not merely to what might have actually
occurred. From the infantile, unsophisticated mental and
physical point of view, very simple little
intrusions—that from the point of view of adults are
part of our ordinary social involvement with one
another—can be perceived to be profoundly threatening
and suppressive. Such intrusions do effect the being
emotionally in a very profound and suppressive fashion.
Those of you who have had children or have been around
infants have noticed how infants react to laughter, for
example—a lot of people in the room laughing suddenly.
We are just laughing, but you notice how startling such
laughter can be to the infant. Just so, any kind of
forceful, explosive expression of laughter, sounds, or
sudden gestures tend to be perceived by infants as
threatening. Therefore, very young children and infants
should not be arbitrarily introduced into common social
settings. Infants should be retained close to the mother and
nurtured, not introduced arbitrarily into social gatherings.
You should be aware of the reactive nature, the primitive
emotional state, of an infant and not create startling kinds
of phenomena for them to deal with.

The emotion of the being is the
primary controller of the very condition of mind and body,
the very condition of the chemistry of the being, the blood
stream, the nervous system, the endocrine system. All of
that is controlled by emotion and, therefore, all of those
systems are controlled by a very primitive, infantile
emotional reactivity. Thus, in terms of developing the
spiritual process, you must all be drawn into a fundamental
emotional responsibility while your emotional life is still
in a very primitive condition. The other aspects of the
being that are appealed to in this process—the mind and
the body in terms of disciplines and understanding—are
in a more highly developed state but are dissociated from
the fundamental emotional force of the being. Therefore, you
can change mentally and physically, but nothing fundamental
changes because it is this emotional force that must be
brought into the sphere of Practice. And that emotional
force is held in place by very primitive kinds of reactions
that are not informed by sophisticated thinking and high
levels of physical development. The psychiatric point of
view attempts to locate events that occurred early in life
that have had an effect on one’s psychological disposition
throughout life. You always expect to find some terrible
thing that happened prior to your memory. Who knows what?
You expect some dreadful thing. However, you are unlikely to
be able to remember a great, calamitous event in your
child’s infancy or your own. In most cases, it was a
perception rather than an actual event that caused the
reaction. In any case, it is not a matter of remembering an
incident but of relocating the emotional capacity of the
being in present time so that you can be responsibly
emotional or feeling in your association with the Divine,
with the universe, with all the relational factors of
existence. Recontacting the emotional force of the being is
essential to the development of the spiritual process, and
likewise it is essential to the regimen of emotional
healing.

The principle of healing must be
applied even though the young child or infant is not able to
responsibly participate in that healing. If shocks occur,
you must introduce the nurturing, intimate quality for the
infant or child. Help him to feel beyond the shock by
reattracting the emotional force of the being when you
notice it becoming depressed or reactive. In that case, you
must reattract the emotional force of that personality. That
is an art of dealing with infants and children. A basic
level of intimacy must be maintained with the mother in
particular, and a calmness of association must be maintained
altogether. Introduce an infant or child gradually into the
various factors of experience. Teach them techniques of
associating rightly with experience—socially,
personally, and intellectually.

Do this rather than believe the
popular myth that infants are free beings of some sort and
that if you leave them alone they will be happy when they
grow up. That is not true at all.

An infantile personality is the
beginning of a human being. Stage by stage, infants become
capable of adaptation to the relational world. As a parent
or a person associated with the growing individual, you must
serve his or her transition to these various levels of
adaptation. To be an individual in the first three stages of
life is to be a growing personality. In fact, one is a
growing personality one’s entire life, and therefore one
should live in a culture of elders, a culture of wisdom, in
which everybody is treated as a growing personality and
one’s reactions are observed and one is drawn out of them.
Particularly in these first three stages of life, however, a
certain kind of sensitivity is required because there is a
kind of primitive level of awareness and, therefore,
reactivity associated with being a young and growing
individual who does not have the sophisticated social,
personal capability of an adult. Therefore, the quality of
nurturing, being close to the parent, being kept from
startling intrusions, and not being surrounded by arbitrary
social intrusions is essential for an infant and child,
particularly during the first three or four years of
life.

As children grow during these years,
you will see them naturally want to move away from the
breast, move away from the mother, turn to others. As soon
as you notice that movement in them, make use of it. That is
the sign of the capacity for a new adaptation. You do not
want to startle the individual, but you do want to draw them
into these new relations. You do want to socialize the
personality. Stage by stage, relieve them of dependence on
the mother, on the mother-father-household situation.
Socialize them more and more. Universalize them more and
more. When a person enters into the third stage of life, the
parent-child game should be completely surrendered. It is a
moment in which the parents can acknowledge the independence
of this individual from parenting in the conventional sense.
In summary, when we notice that an individual has been
startled and made reactive by whatever factors may have
intruded upon him or her, we must learn how to reattract him
physically, mentally, and emotionally into the relational
environment, the universal pattern of existence. The fact
that a child, or even an adult, has become involved in a
reactive mode is not an absolutely negative event. Simply
notice it and reattract him. Every individual is in a moment
of growth. You people are not finished. You are not yet
adults. As a matter of fact, you are frozen in levels of
reactivity that belong to the first, second, and third
stages of life. You are a complex of failed cases, and you
each represent different levels of reactivity in relation to
each of the stages through which you have already passed.
The community of practitioners must know how to introduce
cultural circumstances that will draw an individual’s
fundamental energy and attention, mind and body, from the
field of reactivity and that will reintroduce the reactive
personality into the continuing pattern of growth. Growth
does not end. There is a summation of growth in the seventh
stage of life, but until that time one is involved in a
process of growing as an individual, of adapting to further
stages of association with the phenomena of existence. This
process must be noticed by the elders, by the force of the
community in general. The factors of reaction, contraction,
and self-possession that have been introduced into an
individual’s life and that have inhibited the growth and
adaptation at particular stages of life must be observed. On
that basis, there must be the skillful, or artful,
introduction of cultural influences that attract the
individual out of those states of reactivity.

Four Primary Principles of Conscious
Childrearing

Chapter Four

Transcending Sexual Neurosis in
Childhood

Thus, sexuality is inherently right
and good and necessary. Conflict about rightness, goodness,
and necessity of sexual play in the life of a human
individual is essentially an expression of retarded
adaptation. (Love of the Two-Armed Form)

Session One

The Pleasurable Alternative to a
Secret Life

Close your eyes for a few minutes
and feel into your experience of this moment through the
following questions: Is life about pleasure? Can you abide
in a simple but constant state of pleasure without
sacrificing your intellectual, “productive,” and even
“spiritual” capacities? Do you notice a separation in your
being between the bodily feeling of pleasure and the mental
tendency to abstract and detach yourself from pleasurable
states? You are not alone in having adapted to experience in
this way. We all have developed this functional schism in
the body-mind because of the presumptions we make based on
vital shock. Recoil from the presumption of pleasure as the
condition of existence is bodily recoil from love. Recoil
from love and relatedness is recoil from the Real, the
Divine Reality, the Truth of every body.

Thus, “only men of pleasure know the
Truth.” (Crazy Da Must Sing, Inclined to His Weaker Side, p.
65.) Only those who have become fully human, not recoiled
upon themselves through guilt and every other form of
lovelessness, and who thus do not recoil from the inherent
pleasures of life can Realize the Divine Condition of
manifest existence. As Adi Da writes, “Enjoyment, or prior
Happiness is, the foundation of the fulfillment of the law
in the true man.” (Breath and Name, 4.7, p. 77). And only
spiritual practitioners who are already full in such
enjoyment can enter into true sexual intimacy, founded in
the feeling-recognition of love as the Condition and
Circumstance of life. Those who seek for God generally make
taboos out of sexual experience and sensual pleasures. Sex
is the greatest pleasure that the body-mind can enjoy below
the heart. Precisely because of its powerful capacity to
distract the being from pursuit of “higher” or other-worldly
goals of mystical union or the conventional goals of worldly
society, it has been manipulated or avoided by the spiritual
and religious traditions of Man. The radical Teaching of Adi
Da reveals the error of sex-negativity or manipulation and
offers a Way of present, whole-bodily enjoyment, leading to
the natural transcendence of the neurotic, or stress-based,
motivation to engage in sex.

We are called to bring this same
freedom and wisdom to our children from their very earliest
years. This requires that we be at peace with our own
sexuality and with theirs. The principle of coming to rest
with sexuality is—as always in this
Way—relationship. When, for example, we observe our
children exploring by themselves or with others in a sexual
or merely sensual way, we must encourage them to bring this
experience into relationship. In other words, children
should be encouraged to talk about their experience and feel
that ordinary pleasure need not be concealed from others.
This understanding and openness can begin in them at a very
young age. Sexuality becomes relational if we can fully
accept our children’s explorations and be at ease with them
as they talk about the sensations and feelings they
experience.

In the following excerpt, Adi Da
describes the liberating consequences of the freedom of
sexual expression:

But if we are bodily confessed, then
we are also inherently at peace, one with the bodily organs
and functions. In that case “I” has no fear of being seen,
of expressing love, of accepting help, or fear of any other
form of our necessary sacrifice and voluntary death. (Love
of the Two-Armed Form)

Before you read further, consider
and write a response to the following
consideration:

1. What occurred in your own
childhood when you involved yourself in sexual exploration,
with your own body or with friends? How did you feel about
the incident? How did your parents or others respond? What
are the signs in your own thinking, feeling, and physical
adaptation to sexuality that reflect that sex-negativity is
still an influence in your life? Be specific about what you
tend to communicate bodily and emotionally and how this
might change were you free of social conditioning in
relation to sex.

2. If a seven-year-old child were to
ask, “What is sex?” (referring to sex-play), what would you
say? What emotional response should be present? We serve our
children in and with this freedom of feeling not merely so
that they will grow to their full human potential in the
conventional sense. Rather, our service is an expression of
our understanding of the spiritual process of incarnation
that takes place via the descent of the Life-Current. Sexual
taboos prevent the full descent of Life-Feeling, and we must
not introduce them. The real, functional connection to the
Divine as Spirit-Presence, which stabilizes as a whole-body
responsibility in the fourth stage, depends upon right
adaptation to this descending process. This cannot occur
without an open, positive orientation to the life-functions,
and particularly to the sexual function, lived in the
context of an intimate culture of spiritual
practitioners.

The Taboo against the Superior
Man

(excerpt) (Love of the Two-Armed
Form).

Adi Da: Sexual taboos and the
generalized sense that anti-sexual views and habits are
humanly and even cosmically obligatory and correct are
passed on from generation to generation by many means. The
most influential means are those of the withholding of
bodily and sexual communications. We only show and tell our
children what we ourselves are not afraid to be and know.
The rest is hidden behind the withholding of bodily and
emotional intimacy as well as the absence of positive verbal
communication about the whole affair of incarnate human
experience, including sexuality. The entire social and
cultural game of antisexual, “spirit against flesh”
education is so monstrous, so opposed to incarnate happiness
and human responsibility, as well as the ultimate
transcendental sacrifice of the individual body-mind through
moral and spiritual processes, that it must be considered
the primary social and even philosophical issue of our time.
We must all awaken from our loveless one-sidedness. The
deluded religious and spiritual cultists are perpetually at
war with the bodily life, choosing the brain-mind as if it
were the Infinite. And the equally deluded
anti-religionists, salt-of-the-earth political fanatics, and
worldly humanistic social mechanics or scientific
technocrats are perpetually at war with the higher, psychic,
and spiritual dimensions of human experience. Children of
parents of the “spirit” are deprived of the energy of their
incarnation, fastened to inward nonsense and the vision of a
self-divided mortality that has no pleasure except away from
here. And children of parents of the “flesh” are deprived of
the powers of higher adaptation, fastened to cycles of
endless work and reproduction, and the vision of utopian
solutions that only serve those who happen to be alive when
the great Future State comes. We must awaken and adapt to
the conditions of the whole and entire body-mind, and to the
Way of truly human existence, which is made through
personal, moral, and higher mental or spiritual sacrifice,
or love. Then we will not only live in Truth, but we will
withhold nothing from our children, who must always be
permitted a complete bodily understanding that corresponds
to their level of functional awareness, and who must be
included in a culture of truly human adaptation, in which
not exploitation but gradual responsibility is the key to
human growth.

No Praise, No Blame

(excerpts from a talk by Adi Da,
1/11/83)

The entire matter of the study of
the implications of sexuality, emotional-sexual
relationships, sexual identity, sexual practice, eventual
marriage or intimate living with others, and casual versus
formal association between the sexes are important
considerations for individuals in the third stage and, to
varying degrees, for children in the earlier stages of life.
All this should be part of the continuous education of young
people. However, it is not merely a matter of informing them
about it. The Teaching itself and all of the primary
attitudes associated with the disposition of a devotee tend
to be communicated to children verbally, and we expect them
to conform to these attitudes or demonstrate this
disposition on that basis alone. Thus, the imparting of
sexual understanding to young people cannot merely take the
form of conversations, lectures, courses, and adult
monologues about what they are supposed to be involved in or
not involved in. Such communication must be made in the
context of a community where people are practicing the
wisdom of the sexual discipline in all of its
forms—really practicing it, really demonstrating it,
living it as a matter of behavior and attitude altogether.
In other words, that cultural form must be there, and then
communications can take place within that form.

The most useful conversations for
young people are those that take place with individuals with
when they have an intimate, human association. Within the
context of such intimacy, conversation can include
everything that is on the young person’s mind, everything
that bothers him, everything he does or would do secretly.
There is no need for a secret life for children because we
do not function on the basis of taboos that enforce a
distinction between authority (or the adult world) and
children (or those who are supposed to be followers or
duplicators of the ideal). In a suppressive household, for
instance, or in a childhood that is not truly human, a child
develops a secret life, a secret mind, secret attitudes,
secret talk with other children, secret sex indulgence,
secret indulgences of all kinds—an essentially
dissociative character. Sexual understanding must develop in
relationship and therefore in the context of
relatedness—not merely talking to somebody, but in the
context of open, free relatedness to other people. Children
who have a secret life find other people relatively unreal.
Just so, a neurotic sexual life is generally based on a
feeling of the unreality of other people.

Adults cannot be useful to children
if adults have sex conflicts. If adults themselves are sex
neurotics, it will be impossible for them to communicate a
truly human disposition toward sexuality to younger people.
On the contrary, they will communicate in both overt and
subtle ways a feeling of “sex complication” and a need to
hide certain features of their interest, or fascination,
with sex. If adults are to serve young people, they must be
sane, uncomplicated, and loving. Otherwise, they will be
turning children into standard, middle-class neurotics. The
secret of it all is to develop the lives of our children in
intimate, concrete, and relational terms. We must not force
them to become self-involved, self-contained, and secretive,
thinking of the adult world as a kind of abstract or unreal
norm that is hypocritical and unavailable to the kind of
consideration that they are involved in. Do not force
children into that mode. That is the mode we were all forced
into. We should learn from that lesson. All of you have
grown up to be sexually neurotic, and it is very important
not to be sexually neurotic if you are going to practice a
spiritual Way of life. You know how much time and energy you
all are having to spend as adults merely straightening out
your emotional problems.

It is so important to transcend
neurotic sexuality because it affects not merely certain
kinds of social relations but your entire being, your entire
nervous system. Your lovelessness, or sexual neurosis,
limits your capacity emotionally, as well as the capacity of
the nervous system altogether, to participate in the
spiritual process. You do not wish to force that on your
children, but you are doing that even now by not fully
understanding what the appropriate cultural form for their
growth and their living is. In other words, you must
consciously introduce principles, life structures, and
relational structures into their lives. You must do this if
you are going to avoid introducing other attitudes,
invisibly and arbitrarily, that reinforce their separate,
nonrelational quality, their Narcissism, their
hiddenness.

Cultures that have a sex-suppressive
orientation to children tend to be characterized by
aggression, as in our society. If there is a sex-negative
attitude and a vital-negative and life-negative attitude or
orientation enforced upon children, they cannot adapt fully
to the descending circuit from head to base, from head to
foot. If the sex function is attacked with negative
attitudes and punishments and all the other manipulations
that arise from a suppressive orientation, then individuals
do not adapt to the fully descending Life-Current. They tend
to become anxious at the solar plexus, or above the vital
mechanism. Thus, sex, excreting, and vital functions
altogether become the subject of guilt, shame, and taboos.
In this way, the child’s adaptation to the Life-Current is
retarded, and he or she develops a contraction in the solar
plexus that is critical. When the contraction at the solar
plexus or at the navel center is strong, then what emotion
is magnified? The emotion of anger or aggression. It is a
violent emotion. Such emotion is a sign of retarded
adaptation to the Life-Current. Therefore, you must not
introduce these taboos, these life-negative views. You must
introduce a life-positive economy based on intelligent
understanding of the life process.

Therefore, permit children to adapt
to the Life-Current, but do not reinforce any tendencies
toward self-indulgence because suppression and indulgence
have the same effect: They do not permit children to adapt
to the Living Current in its descending form. They mutilate
it and develop a self-contracted or self-possessed
orientation to the descending life-function. In that case,
too, human beings become aggressive and their sexuality is
aggressive. Therefore, we must develop an intelligent
economy in our children without taboos or negative views, by
establishing a very positive human association with them.
Permit them to gradually adapt from infancy through the
third stage of life to this descending frontal life-circuit
so that the Life-Current can be fully adapted to all of the
functions of the manifest personality from head to base
without shame, guilt, sorrow, fear, anger, and all the rest
of it becoming chronic attitudes. Those attitudes, you see,
are simply the signs of contractions in the descending
life-circuit. During their childhood individuals are also
drawn into spiritual and religious attitudes that enable
them to use the ascending life-circuit as well as the
descending life-circuit. But children do not adapt to the
ascending circuit and to the subtler aspects of the nervous
system until later in life. They use them in some
rudimentary sense, but human beings adapt progressively.
Children can only adapt to the subtler aspects of the
personality once they have adapted to the grosser aspects.
Therefore, they adapt to this descending process first, even
though they use the ascending process in some rudimentary
sense. When that adaptation is complete, then individuals
can adapt to the ascending half of the life-circuit, the
subtler activities of the being, and the self-transcending
orientation in its fullest sense altogether. It is after the
third stage of life, then, during adult life, that people
truly begin to adapt to the subtler aspects of the human
circuitry and contact the Divine functionally—not
merely in rudimentary terms, but in very sophisticated terms
as real spiritual practitioners.

Summary Points

1. Imparting sexual understanding to
young people cannot merely take the form of conversation but
must be made in the context of a community where people are
practicing the wisdom of the sexual discipline.

2. The most useful conversations for
young people are those that take place with individuals with
whom they have an intimate, human association. Within the
context of such intimacy, conversation can include
everything that is on the young person’s mind, everything
that bothers him, everything he does or would do
secretly.

3. The secret of right sexual
orientation in children is to develop the lives of our
children in intimate, concrete, and relational terms. We
must not force them to become self-involved, self-contained,
and secretive.

4. Sexual neurosis limits your
emotional capacity, as well as the capacity of the nervous
system altogether, to participate in the spiritual
process.

5. We must consciously introduce
principles, life structures, and relational structures into
our children’s lives. Otherwise, we will reinforce their
separate, nonrelational qualities.

6. If the sex function is attacked
with negative attitudes and punishments, individuals do not
adapt to the fully descending Life-Current. Guilt and shame
follow with anxiety. The contraction in the solar plexus
strengthens, and anger and aggression result.

Session Two

Eliminating the Sex-Negative
Mind

No introduction is necessary to
these practical discussions by Adi Da on serving the truly
human development of sexuality in children. As you read,
relax into the Adept’s criticism of our sex- and
life-negativity. Do not recoil upon yourself in the process
of seeing your sex-negativity and how it may have influenced
your children. Rather, as Adi Da Instructs us:

Have no regrets. Resort to the
Divine in Truth and in the present. All that has ever been
done by anyone had its logic in its time. Only God avails.
Whatever is your habit in this moment is not wrong. It is
simply a beginning. No habit is necessary, but it is only
tending to persist, because it has not yet been replaced by
further growth. Hear the Teaching of Truth, and understand
what is the right, ultimate, and regenerative pattern of
each function of Man. Feel free of all negative judgments
about what you have done and what you tend to do. Turn with
full feeling-attention to the creative affair of new
adaptation in most positive Communion with the God who is
Life, and who is Alive as all beings. (LOOK, pp.
111-12)

Eliminate the Sex-Negative
Mind

an essay based on conversations with
Adi Da

Sex-negative people bring
sex-negativity to children. All adults should examine their
own sex-negative notions and not pass them on to their
children. It is absolutely wrong to suppress life in
children, as this will only serve to create internal
conflicts later in life they will tend to interpret religion
as asceticism or body-negativity. They will become divided
people with divided minds. People generally think like
Puritans and act like whores. Everyone has a double mind,
but sex is much simpler than that. It must be based on
intelligence, it must be based on understanding, and we must
appreciate it as a yoga of the body. At some point almost
all adults have to overcome the sex-negative attitude that
comes from being educated in Western society. Teachers and
parents should discuss ways to artfully deal with this
matter so as to best serve the culture of
children.

The two important principles
relative to children’s sexuality are: 1) It should not be
suppressed, and 2) It should be communicated about and be
openly acknowledged. Sexuality should be discussed with them
in positive terms. We must teach them how to explore sex and
sexual feeling while at the same time socialize them. If we
are socializing them, moving them beyond chronic
self-involvement, then attention to sex will tend to
dissolve as a chronic matter.

Adults must understand that in a
sense children have a sexual life, but they are not involved
in reproduction. At ages five and six there is nothing wrong
with their touching themselves or playing with one another.
You can discuss their sexual exploration by asking, “What
does it feel like?” or “What are you doing?” If it is not
discussed, it will tend to become chronic and secret and
thus neurotic. Children should talk about their pleasure.
This will produce natural involvement in the sexual process.
We must bring children to a moral disposition, not one that
is sex-negative. Sexuality should be open, acknowledged,
permitted, and talked about. At the end of the first stage,
at about age seven, children can begin to come to an
understanding about sexual energy, about their bodies, and
about how to use sexual energy. At this point disciplines
must be introduced, but there should never be a prohibition
or taboo. There should normally never be prohibitions about
sex. The only case in which prohibition against masturbation
or sexual play might serve is among children who have been
brought up with profoundly sex-negative ideas or who have
not been given the occasion to talk about their sexual
feelings and consequently whose involvement with sex is so
chronic and aberrated that it would have to be
disciplined.

In the case of children who have not
been rightly socialized, there my be chronic masturbation
and extreme, secretive inversion. This is usually a symptom
of a social problem in relationship. Wherever you see
aberration and inversion in relation to the life-functions
of the body, you should talk to the child, but not in the
context of sex-negativity. Help them to be free to develop
their energy socially in many relationships and in
relationship to the Divine. In general, people want to do
something about sex. They want to attack it as a problem and
try to change it, either by suppressing or enhancing it.
Whenever they notice any kind of aberrated pattern or sexual

desire in themselves or their
children, they want to suppress it. This is in general the
ineffective and unenlightened approach, the result of an
emotional contraction in relationships, and especially in
relationship to the Ultimate Reality. In other words,
aberrated sex is a symptom of a dis-ease of the emotional
being. Sex becomes normalized when dealt with intimately in
relationship and when the primary relationship of the child
to the Ultimate Divine Reality is restored.

During the transition to the second
stage from the first stage (at about seven), there is a time
of very open bodily self-exploration. The second stage,
then, will lead toward an understanding of the discipline of
sexuality. In general, it is a time in which children
enlarge their sensitivity beyond their own bodies into
Nature and aesthetics, but it should not be made into an
issue if they masturbate. If they are trained properly, sex
will develop naturally. It is a very artful
process.

Gradual control of masturbation
should develop, but it should not be prohibited.
Masturbation is self-exploration, and it has no negative
effect prior to puberty. At puberty, hormonal activity makes
discipline appropriate because the hormones at that age that
are required to strengthen the body are developing and it is
appropriate for the energy of the body to be used for
growth. But even then, masturbation should not be taboo.
There should never be negative communications about
sexuality at any stage. It is the educators’ and parents’
responsibility to socialize the child, to draw him into
relational life, into the spiritual feeling for life and the
embrace of moral habits. In the later years of the second
stage, from nine upward, children should be instructed to
relate to sex and the body with understanding and with the
expectation of assuming the discipline of self-regulation.
It is through their understanding, however, and not through
prohibition or any negativity, that they choose not to
exploit themselves.

Summary Points

1. All adults should examine their
own sex-negativity and discuss ways to artfully deal with it
so as to best serve the culture of children in the area of
sexuality.

2. When children are socialized, sex
naturally ceases to be an obsessive focus of attention in
children.

3. Having children talk about
pleasure allow them a natural involvement with the sexual
process.

4. There should never be
prohibitions or taboos against sex in the first two stages
of life unless the child’s involvement is chronic and
aberrated. Serve the child to develop his energy socially in
relationships and in relationship to the Divine.

5. Sex-negativity, expressed as
suppression and exploitation, is the result of an emotional
contraction in relationships, especially in relationship to
the Divine. It is nomalized when dealt with intimately in
relationship and through restoration of the child’s primary
relationship to the Divine.

6. Do not make negative
communications about sex at any stage.

7. Instruct children after about age
nine to relate to sex and the body with understanding. Only
through understanding, and not through prohibition or any
negativity, will children choose not to exploit
themselves.

Surrender of the Body in
God

(a talk by Adi Da, 8/11/80,
LOOK)

Adi Da: It is very easy to introduce
a sex-negative, body-negative, and self-negative attitude in
children through little punishment rituals, because we have
all been indoctrinated in one way or another into a
sex-negative, or at least an ambivalent, view of sexuality.
On the one hand sex is affirmed, on the other hand it is
denied. I can remember receiving basically sex-negative
signals throughout my childhood. Sex was something you were
not supposed to do unless you were married, but even then it
was better if you didn’t! (Laughter.) In the culture of my
childhood, there was no systematic development of a positive
body-sense relative to all one’s functions. Therefore, in
order to raise our children with a positive body-sense,
everyone in our community must understand how he or she
tends to reinforce a body-negative and sex-negative
self-image, and then they must avoid dealing with children
in those ways.

Children inevitably explore their
bodies and feel them in various ways. To take the position
that there is something wrong with all that is foolish. Nor
do you have to make children explore and feel their bodies;
they will do this naturally. When you find them doing it,
what will be your response? You do not want to encourage
habitual masturbating, but you also do not want to slap
their hands and tell them that what they are doing is nasty
or dirty. Rather, you must establish a more positive and
ordinary education for children in which they become
directly, feelingly, and sensually related to the world
altogether. When they begin to notice things about their
bodies, there should be no suppressive attack on them. That
exploration is just a sign that they have reached a certain
stage in self-observation, and you should help them. By the
time they are capable of making such observations, they are
usually old enough to engage in a discussion that will lead
to an understanding of the body and its
sensations.

As soon as children discover their
bodies as terminals of sensation, they will tend to address
them as instruments of sensation, and they will develop
habits like masturbation and other kinds of private games,
and in this way develop a dissociative character. The
discovery of one’s bodily and sexual sensations is obviously
a positive aspect of children’s development, and when
children begin to make this discovery, we must lead them to
an understanding that will make it unnecessary for them to
choose to exploit the terminal of sensation in their own
bodies. Instead, they should relate the body to the real
world through sensual and perceptual awareness. By entering
into that related connection to the world, the bodily
energies attain a state of natural equanimity. However, as
soon as individuals start stimulating the body for the sake
of sensation, they develop a habitual mode of dissociation
from others and from the world. They also get the idea that
there is something wrong with bodily pleasure, that it is
bad. So, their self-stimulation has to become secret.
Generally, children who begin to exploit themselves sexually
at an early age have sexual problems well into adulthood,
until they are able to break out of the mode of privacy into
sensual and sexual expression that is relational.

Therefore it is important that
children in the first and second stages of life come to a
positive understanding of their bodily discoveries.
Instruction about sexuality and about the third or
brahmacharya stage of life is useful. We should not cut
children off, bodily, from life. Rather, we should lead them
further into bodily forms of existence and perceptual
association with the world. We should help them to develop
an understanding of their sexual character and the sexual
mechanism, and of how their early years are an initiation
into the functions of the body in relationship to all kinds
of potential experience. Sexuality has a great deal of
learning associated with it. However, the fact that children
are discovering sex as a possibility at an early age does
not mean that they are ready for it. Rather, at that point
their cultural initiation must begin, and in this manner
they will be prepared for the sexual yoga in their later
married life.

It is helpful for children to be
massaged throughout their years prior to marriage, and for
them to massage others. This kind of bodily intimacy
reinforces the positive sense of bodily existence. Thus,
massaging, the development of unobstructed feeling, and
positive bodily association with the world and with other
people are all necessary aspects of character development. A
lot of what becomes the adolescent crisis is based on the
discovery of one’s own body as a terminal of experience, and
that discovery occurs during childhood prior to the full
development of relational life and relational experience.
The usual adolescent, who is not drawn into the culture of
such relational development and real learning, becomes
reactive based on the principle of self-discovery. This is
the root of the kind of obnoxious independence game that
adolescents begin to exploit. This adolescent game of
independence is based entirely on the discovery of the body
as a principle of separative, egoic experience rather than a
medium of association or relationship.

STUDENT: It seems that there would
be different levels of instruction for children, based on
the stages of life, which would specifically address the
whole range of their life and functioning at different
levels of maturity. And maybe there could also be a
progressive teaching about how to relate to the Life-Force.
For instance, children would learn about the awakening of
the Life-Force in their own body, and then learn about it in
relation to others, and, at a later stage, in regard to
their marriage relationship.

Adi Da: Marriage is the ultimate
fulfillment of one aspect of a process of learning that
should have occurred all through life up to that point. In
other words, the actual exercise of one’s capacity for
sexual experience comes only after a long period of learning
and submission of the body into all relations, into the
total field of experience in God. Children and teenagers who
begin to exploit potentials for pleasure based on the
self-principle, the body-principle independent of the
development of a relational character, are people who have
dissociative problems in later life. You see, it is quite
typical for teenagers and even younger children in the
common world today to develop all kinds of ways of enjoying
themselves through stimulation of the self-body. From early
childhood and certainly from adolescence, they use
intoxicants, drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, and forms of sexual
exploitation. And when an individual has developed a culture
of self-pleasure as profoundly as adolescents tend to
develop it in our society, it becomes very difficult for
them later on to live a harmonious life of relational
culture, which is the obligation of mature humanity. For
this reason, we must prevent the creation of a self-culture
in childhood and adolescence. Until a person enters into the
fourth stage of life, they should always be progressing in
this general process of submitting the body to the field of
relations in order to learn. Therefore, sexual activity
should only begin after that preparation has taken place,
and marriage is the ceremony of that initiation or ultimate
development.

Student: In the conventional society
in which we grew up there was no sense of relationship at
all. And so we turned to ourselves, our own bodies, to find
pleasure. But in our spiritual culture, we live by a
different principle.

Adi Da: Well, the self-body is the
principle of conventional living because people are, in
common society, basically dramatizing the level of
development that is characteristic of the third stage of
life, particularly the problematic development of that
stage. Common society is basically an adolescent culture in
which the self-body is the principle and everybody is,
therefore, seeking some sort of self-enjoyment,
self-fulfillment, and self-pleasure. The fullest dimension
of their actual humanity does not have the opportunity to be
expressed, because there is no culture or cultural demand
for it. There is no demand for self-transcendence and
submission of the body into the field of relations in God.
That wisdom-culture is missing.

Thus, the self-body, rather than the
surrender of the body in God and in all relationships, is
the principle of conventional society. Therefore,
conventional society is an adolescent, prehuman or subhuman
culture. Human culture begins with the culture of the fourth
stage of life. It is the culture that develops on the basis
of the surrender of the whole body, or bodily surrender in
God and in all relations. When the self-body itself becomes
the principle of experience prior to the development of that
elaborated relational culture, then the individual becomes
fixed in the self mode, the Narcissistic culture of
adolescence. And that is what typifies all of you! In fact,
this description is characteristic of society in general.
People are fixed in the principle of the self-body, and are
therefore Narcissistic and dissociative and
disturbed.

Student: I think that is why it is
difficult even to consider bringing this kind of premarital
consideration to most teenagers. Because they have learned
and adapted to so little wisdom in the earlier stages,
talking about the “yoga of sexual communion” with them would
be just like bringing them some kind of conventional sex
instruction. If the whole emotional adaptation in
relationship hasn’t already occurred, they are not really
prepared to enter into a mature consideration of human
sexuality.

Adi Da: In our community, as
children progress through the stages of growth, we must,
develop orderly forms of cultural experience that will make
the period of life which becomes adolescence in the common
world into a positive cultural epoch for each individual.
This has traditionally been called the brahmacharya
stage.

The third stage of life is not
supposed to be adolescence! Adolescence is a crisis of
reactive collapse upon the self-body and all of the
problems, desires, and complications that accompany that
collapse. The third stage of life, truly lived, is not
expressed in the form of that adolescent crisis, but rather
it is a life-positive, relation-positive period of learning
and preparation for mature adult life and all of its
conditions, including sexuality in marriage. But if specific
and positive cultural circumstances are not provided for
young people in that stage of life, they will tend to
develop this adolescent crisis character, this Narcissistic
orientation to the principle of the self-body.

Children are always tending to
develop this Narcissistic character in one or another way
throughout the first three stages of life. Therefore, you
must not make their discoveries of the self-body incidents
for punishment and reinforcement of negative attitudes.
Rather, consider them to be moments of learning, moments of
increased awareness. Then, through that sense of awareness,
lead the individual into the relational field of
life—to greater sensitivity, energy, and attention for
real growth rather than the exploitation of self. There is a
natural and positive way to use all these incidents of
self-discovery and the various events of developing
childhood so that you do not suppress the personality of
children and ultimately force them into an adolescent,
self-involved crisis. Instead, you should enable them to
become more life-positive, more sensitive, more expanded,
more full of understanding and mature
responsibility.

Summary Points

1. We must establish a positive and
ordinary education for children in which they become
directly, feelingly, and sensually related to the world
altogether.

2. Exploration is simply a sign that
they have come to a certain stage of self-observation. Help
them to make their observations by engaging them in a
discussion that leads to understanding of the body and its
sensations.

3. Children should learn to relate
the body to the real world through sensual and perceptual
awareness. This allows the bodily energies to attain a state
of natural equanimity.

4. Massage is the kind of bodily
intimacy that reinforces the positive sense of bodily
existence.

5. Conventional adolescence is based
on the discovery of the body as a principle of experience
rather than as a medium of association, of
relationship.

The Process of
Socialization

(excerpt from a talk by Adi
Da)

As soon as infants begin to become
aware of their bodies, the body becomes a principal object
for them. This happens very early in life, and it is the
very true that infants should begin to socialize or adapt to
the total environment through the bodily senses. In that
case, the whole world becomes an object of interest and play
to them, and obsessive attention to their own bodies will
become obsolete over time. The kinds of activities that
should occupy children are not those that emphasize
obsession with their own self-touching and self-sense.
Children should be socializing, adapting to life
functionally by doing things with other children, with other
people, with the natural environment. Go on a picnic!
(Laughter.)

There is no need to orient children
toward focusing attention on their own bodies. As a person
with a body, they should simply be around others and have no
special event take place as a result of that, have that be
very ordinary. That ordinariness will make them point at
themselves less. They will not always be sizing people up in
terms of protruding bodily parts, and they will be able to
adapt naturally to the fact that every individual is a
vital, physical person.

It is this process of socialization
that permits open sexual development. That is what I mean by
sexual development. I do not mean having intercourse when
you are four years old! What I mean by sexual development is
that in the second stage of life, you are able to come
freely alive as a vital being and in the third stage of
life, you comprehend your vitality, including your
sexuality, in many specific ways. In that stage you gain
control with the mind over how you use your life.

Thus, at the end of the third stage,
individuals can begin to court and even marry after eighteen
to twenty-one. If you have matured in the third stage, that
is an appropriate time to engage the process of sexuality.
Prior to that time, there is no value in it. In fact, it is
negative to be exploiting sexuality as a teenager. Such
exploitation can only work against them, and later on they
will have a great deal of difficulty being mature in the
stage of life to which their age corresponds. In that case,
individuals will go through life still stuck in all the
earlier stages, and they will dramatize emotions that belong
to seven and eight year olds. They will use sexuality as if
they were ten years old because they will not have adapted
to or inspected and become responsible for the functional
level that is being revealed to them at their present age.
The community must become a culture that understands this
process and makes it possible for each of these stages to be
lived in an appropriate form.

Further Summary Points on
Sexuality

(by The Education Department of the
Free Daist Communion)

1. Sexuality is not taboo in our Way
of life. It is not to be suppressed or exploited but
progressively adapted to in life-positive terms and lived as
a spiritual yoga in maturity.

2. Sexual engagement must be founded
on the prior achievement of full maturity in the first three
stages. Ideally, sexuality begins in the fourth stage of
life as the yoga of sexual communion.

3. Children should be taught how to
relate to their sexuality, not how to avoid or suppress
these feelings and impulses. In the third stage, they must
learn its true and higher purpose; they must not view it as
a means of relieving stress or merely as a reproductive
function.

4. Adults must be open and freely
communicative with children so that the adults can be
instructive about the various developments of sexual
awakening as they appear in each stage of growth.

5. The process of socialization,
which is adaptation to human intimacy, permits right and
open sexual development.

6. Attention stimulated by the
awakening to sense-functions should be naturally directed
outward into relationship so that it does not become
obsession with the self-body.

7. The second stage is the time of
developing a conscious relationship to the descending aspect
of the Life-Force and feeling-sensitivity to the polarities
of male and female.

8. We must not introduce taboos that
prevent full descent of the Life-feeling. The typical
reactions of adolescence and frustrated egoic
adulthood—anger, shame, guilt, etc.—will be the
only result.

Four Primary Principles of Conscious
Childrearing

 

Epilogue

 

(unpublished talk by Adi Da,
12/17/82)

 

Children are like Mickey Mouse. They
have that same kind of force for us, that same kind of
innocence. They have received no bad news yet. They do not
operate with mental problems, and they act as if they are
immortals. They can become afraid in certain situations, but
most of the time they act as if there is no death, no
threat, no problem, nothing negative about
existence.

 

We become profoundly attached,
emotionally attached, to these beings because they are free
Life-Signs for us. This says something about our adult life,
about what we accept as adults. We presume that only
children should be Life-Signs to one another, but we should
not be involved in this mortal vision, either. It is our
responsibility to grow spiritually and not be confined to
the neurosis of the lower stages of life, so we can be
Life-Signs for one another. This is what those who consort
with one another should be—free Life-Signs,
emotionally, mentally, altogether.

The spiritually alive personality is
in some ways just like a child—not uninformed as a
child is, but free by virtue of transcending adult
information. We take our information too seriously and do
not take our Truth seriously enough. We should all be like
Mickey Mouse. The reason that we enjoy children is that they
have not learned what we have learned. Now that we have
learned it, we should not take it any more seriously than
children do who have not learned it yet.

 


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