On Education

By Katherine Tingley

A boy who has grown up in a family where the laws of life are understood, and who is himself entering the path and seeking understanding, when he comes to choose his life-companion will meet that situation in a manner very unlike the ordinary. With the impulse will come a sense of the deep responsibility attaching to the step he is about to take, and the home he forms eventually will be ideal for that reason. The children born will be of a higher type than we meet with commonly, because in that home there will be a constant cultivation of everything that is the opposite of the tendencies that make for human undoing.

His children from the first will get an impress of the higher nature. They will be made to know, from the time they can first caress a flower or love the stars in heaven, that they too, like the stars and the flowers, are a part of universal life. From the time they can speak they will be taught to believe in the power of the inner nature to direct their lives. They will learn to stimulate all their thoughts and actions with the consciousness of their essential divinity and their power to overcome all the evils that may assail them.

The parents will not talk to them about the ego, will say very little, perhaps, about the god in man. They will have no catechisms defining the principles of theosophy, but they will bring home to their children's minds the sacredness of life in such a way as to make them realize that even the body, the mortal part that is to die, is sacred, and that to profane it would also be to profane all that is best and noblest in the nature. And they will not be satisfied until they know that it would be utterly impossible for a child of theirs ever to deceive or to stoop to pollute himself, mind or body. Believing that the children are in themselves as all human beings are and must be -- essentially divine -- these parents will hold that if they give them the right environment and example and love, and are absolutely just according to their best capacities and opportunities, the children have that within themselves which will cause them to grow.

They will not plan too much, lest they should overdo and be disappointed. Truth may be shut out from the mind not only by prejudices and misconceptions, but also by set plans for the future. Many map out their children's lives or their own to the last moment, intending this and intending that; and all their plans are from the brain-mind and mortal self, and defeat in advance the unknown plans of the soul. They will not plan too much, but they will take their own lives and fashion them according to the inner laws of life, so that when their children look at them, a clean record will appear in their eyes and atmosphere.

They will know that in education something more is needed than intellect, scholarship, or theory and that is the beauty of the inner, the spiritual life. There is always a danger that in the effort at culture we may forsake or forget the higher path. We have to understand the laws that govern our lives, lest we establish conditions that will bring about a reaction. A theosophist holding a position in a public school would not be content with training the minds and bodies of his pupils, but with each he would begin in the undertones of the child's nature and seek to push forward and evolve the divine within, which is that which parents really love in their children: the immortal self on which their true hopes are set.

And, of course, they will have an understanding of reincarnation and will know what the problems are that a reincarnating soul must solve; and that eternity is behind and before them, and the children with them for a time -- for a little while only, perhaps, but for all eternity if they do their duty by them. For where the link is forged in truth, neither death nor time can divide it; and we shall say of our loved ones who are gone: when everything in nature has been working to free the soul, it is not for me to hold it back with tears and mourning -- we shall meet and know each other again, and our love shall be greater than ever was told.

But those whose minds and souls are shut in with half-truths and limitations and who, giving their children only the external and objective, ignore in them the life of the soul and starve them of the higher things, lose their children even in this present life. For our children are souls; before they came to us they existed. They have journeyed down the ages burdened with difficulties and weaknesses they may have inherited from other ancestors, tendencies and characteristics they may have evolved under the influence of other conditions and parentage of old. They come to us sent by the divine law to evoke something higher in our nature than without them we could have attained to expressing for many years: to become our teachers in a sense, teaching us lessons out of the wealth of their ancient experience, and in turn to be taught by us that which we alone can teach them.

It behooves us then to take larger views of their lives, to live outside the limitations of the age and of our present lifetime and to school our natures as never before, discovering our strength and weaknesses. Our children are born to seek and receive something they could find nowhere but with us, and a real love would aim at eliminating fear and self-consciousness from their minds. It is the narrow view that is the curse of humanity today.

If we are to treat them as something more than mortal -- something more than mere machines or things created out of nothing -- we must realize this much as to their antecedents: they come into human birth proceeding from the divine source of light and life. They have lived through many schools of experience in the past and will again in the future. There are endless possibilities latent in them: wisdom gained in ancient lives which may manifest itself at anytime and which a true system of education would tend to evoke.

So when rare and interesting qualities appear, and a child without special conditions or privileges shows great gifts in music, poetry, painting, or some other subject, the true teacher will not say, "I taught him this," nor the wise parent, "He had this from me." They will understand that it came from the stores accumulated in the child's own soul which, with all its previous lives behind it, is potentially a mine of great wealth. They will understand, too, that the child is not more favored, or created with a richer endowment than the rest, but simply that it was at pains to acquire in the past those powers or gifts that it displays now.

We have not the history of that old time in which the sacred Mysteries were in their prime: an age far preceding the classical period when Greece is supposed to have reached the highest point in her culture. We have no records in evidence of the wonderful life that parents lived in those days for the sake of their children. All we know is of later epochs when men's minds were becoming clouded and the heart-life and spiritual needs of the children were no longer looked on as the most important things in life, and the word and doctrine of the soul had been forgotten. Parents no longer thought of their children as souls, because reincarnation was no longer vividly present in the imaginations of men.

  • (From from The Gods Await, copyright © 1992 by Theosophical University Press)

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