The soul craves an education that develops the balance of the faculties: in which, while the material life and all that belongs to it are considered, the spiritual life is given its true place so that it may nourish in the mind a discrimination or intuition almost unknown today. Children are born to be met with something better than the welcome they receive in even the best of homes. They come demanding a response to the yearnings of the spiritual part of their being which nothing material can satisfy; and parents cannot so express their love as to meet these deepest needs unless they themselves know what real life, spiritual life, means and can face its mysteries with reverent understanding.
We come into the world with the light of our divinity shining on us and then, because of the education and environment that await us here, we are blinded though yet yearning towards the sunlight. The views we acquire are so limited, the goals set before us so petty and ignoble, that we begin to grow old while we still should be young, and to die before we reach full adulthood. We live but a few years before our whole thought is of death, and yet youth in its richness and fullness might be found in life at seventy!
When their child is born and nature has produced the tiny animate body they so tenderly care for, how many mothers realize that linked with that body, and to gain therein its necessary experience and advancement, is a soul (during infancy as it were asleep), the treasure of the gods come into their lives to learn from and to teach them, to benefit them and to be benefited? "The soul belongs to the immortals; the body has come to me that I may make it a temple of the living god" — how many mothers tell themselves that?
If we do not know what we need ourselves, how shall we understand the needs of our children? We look upon those little mysteries as something wholly our own, take possession of them from the very first and try to fashion their lives upon notions of our own, and forget that they are souls with their own rights and individuality. In what a hurry we are to push them on, to get our doctrines and ideas and devotions and feelings drummed into them! We love them and desire their advancement, and indeed would suffer or die for them, but shut them in within the little scope of our personal concepts and ingrain our idiosyncrasies into their lives. We would make them a part of ourselves and hide from them that they are a part of the great life of the universe. In our very efforts to teach them, we hold away from them the grander lessons of universal nature.
In their solicitude parents surround their children, as far as they can, with everything that physical life can give. They nestle them to their hearts and make great plans for their future — which, however, they foresee only in terms of a life of from seventy to a hundred years. They do not know what their children's destiny will be, nor if they are to see them again, nor when, nor how. They do not look towards the tomorrows of the evolution of the soul. Those who hold that we live but once cannot see the breadth and scope of our human evolution.
Truth is always seeking expression: not in creeds and verbal formulae, but as higher states of consciousness. It is a profound sense of the solemn mystery of life that the mother-to-be should have, not dogmas based on tradition and faith and with no element of knowledge in them. The mystery of life must be understood or the unborn child is swayed by the influence, not of illumination, not of reality, but of mere opinion, and suffers a kind of starvation spiritually. It has come back, a stranger, to those from whom it has been parted so long, demanding a spiritual welcome and to be made to feel in the very first pulsations of its heart before birth the superb influence of truth — of spiritual truth manifesting as higher states of consciousness in the parents and fashioning their thoughts and actions in such a way as to build up for the child a life-vehicle fit for a soul. Often they have nothing to give it but the atmosphere of the dead opinions of this and past ages: no living truth, no awareness of the divine, ever-present and shining through human hearts and minds.
And so the children are not rightly welcomed. Their lives are prepared for and started in an atmosphere of uncertainty, unrest, and before and after birth they starve for that spiritual light and peace which of right should belong to every human being — for it is the consciousness of the divine nature within each of us.
To think of a man is to think of a soul: an inhabitant of eternity moving forever along the path of evolution, seeking wisdom and driven to seek it by a sense of his own incompleteness and a hunger for the fullness of his being. Only egoists are self-satisfied. The normal person feels within himself that longing for completeness which is the effort of divine truth to manifest through him. He is impatient with his own failure to understand the mysteries of life.
So we are often impelled hither and thither, and our course is zigzag from this thought system to that. Our policies in life are shaped by the psychological influences of the age we live in: by current opinions and the small revelations of science, or by some book that may be in great temporary repute. There is little growth for those who thus depend upon such ephemeral guides. Hundreds of mothers, while they are experimenting, and reading this or that on child-culture, or attending such-and-such lectures, may all the while be depriving their children of something divine that once acquired can never be lost, that can only be acquired during the prenatal period and earliest childhood through the mother's knowledge of the laws, mysteries, and responsibilities of life.
If parents rightly understood these vital needs of their children, they would regard the subject of self-purification in a new way and make of their homes altars to purity. What is needed is a larger view of the meaning of happiness: this is the line of thought following which they might discover their true selves and begin the upbuilding of a better humanity. The world stands in need of mothers and fathers with clear, quiet minds, to whom the home is the sacred center of human life, where no disharmony is allowed to enter, where time is held too precious for many things that seem all-important to most of us, where duty to the self, to the children, to the human race, is firmly understood and unflinchingly followed.
Every other thing in life should be sacrificed to the advancement of the Christos-spirit in the home. Where the desire for it is, there the help will come. He who aspires to do a noble thing — and in his heart is reaching out towards it constantly, seeking the inmost sanctum of his being and desiring help and light — will get what he demands from the immortal source, though not by any special favor: the divinity in the soul always responds to the call of a mind open and ready to receive. That divinity is there, behind our daily consciousness, urging us forever to thought-flights out into the vast skies of truth.
One need not go away from one's own home to learn these things. Knowledge of them is to be found in the inmost recesses of one's being; and who finds it there becomes impregnable to external influences. When the soul has control over the mind, one is not satisfied with faith, but must have knowledge today and more knowledge tomorrow, happiness today and more happiness tomorrow, until the very flowers in the garden bloom for one more beautifully every morning, and the birds sing sweeter, and the sun shines more brightly. For those who partake of this wisdom, and whose will is set to live this life, are fed at the Master's table.
(From Sunrise magazine, October/November 2002; copyright © 2002 Theosophical University Press)
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How may we speak of the numinous wonder we feel about the birth, growth, and being of a child? Why are we moved so deeply by it? We see the astounding complexity of physical development, marvel at living photographs of human gestation, witness and help our children to enter this world. We descry Promethean fires that inspire and stimulate and awaken. The more we learn, the more we intuit profound Mystery and hidden Intelligence that is seed and root of the child. We can hardly help asking more earnestly than ever why, how, and from where do our children come? What inner bonds draw them here?
Behold the child: compound of earth and Infinite. Who is this ancient pilgrim who urges us to recall our own invisible parentage, who helps us to sense purpose, design, continuity, kinship, and spirit? How shall we regard him? A messenger from silent universes and yet so intensely human — loving, needing, growing: is not the child our brother also, searching just as we are for vision and fulfillment of that cosmic Mystery whose message of wonder he bears. — Will Thackara