How to Teach “The Art of Living” to Children
Sat discusses with parents how to help children drop their desires through the Art of Living.
How to Teach “The Art of Living” to Children
Summary: Sat discusses with parents how to help children drop their desires through the Art of Living.
Question: We know You have spoken a lot about helping children with desires and we have shared your direct quotes and guidance on this. But it does seem like we continue to get questions about childrens’ many desires and how to curb this and how to handle this. I just wanted to ask if there is anything else You can say about helping children to drop their desires, and or the importance of doing so?
Sat: The first thing you do is not to fulfill every desire they have (chuckles). That is the first rule, because desire multiplies. The satisfaction of it becomes shorter and shorter for a child; it gets to the point that desire becomes an unconscious sentence and then the fulfillment of it means nothing to them. So, the first thing is to listen to them. Like they say, “Buy me a toy” and these types of things, and you say, “We will see,” and then completely don’t do it.
There’s another thing to do as they are growing, which I did with My grandson when he asked Me to buy him a new toy. When I said no, he got upset. Then I pointed out to him that this feeling he is experiencing is taking away his joy. The reason it is taking away his joy is because he constantly wants things rather than enjoying what it is now, meaning being in the car with his grandmother, and going to have a great day, and all of that. He really listened, maybe the first time he didn’t agree with Me, but by the third time I see that he is asking for toys, or anything much less if any.
So again, without criticizing, you point out that when you say “no” to the fulfillment of their desire when they are throwing a tantrum or they are not happy about it, point out to them the way they feel at that moment and ask them, “Does it feel good?” Then explain to them why a moment before that desire, they were happy but now they are not. Explain to them what took place and how they can drop it or not go with that thought and be free of discomfort. This is exactly how a mother and father can help the child the most by their own wisdom. Then the child learns - just imagine by the time the child is nine, ten, eleven, twelve years old, [it] has mastery over their desires and attachment. Imagine how free that child is! So again, without criticizing, we teach them the Art of Living, as we put it into practice ourselves.
You see we are not making our child have no desires. We as parents also have desires, although our desires take different forms. So the point is not to have your child be desireless. But it is important that every desire is not fulfilled, because the more desire is fulfilled, the more desire follows and this way the child loses his peace. When a child has a desire and you say no to it, or not right now, or I do it later. What happens? First he insists, and then he gets upset or she gets upset. At that time is the best opportunity to teach him or her the Art of Living.
When she or he is upset, you ask, “Does this feeling feel good to you? Because a few minutes ago you were happy, then you decided you want something and when I said no you lost your peace and joy.” Eventually the child admits that he is not happy at all; that is when you teach him the reason he is not happy right then because he has too many desires.
If he looks at the desire right then, just like we ourselves do with Stop Meditation and allow it to drop, like a crumpled piece of paper in his hands, his joy and happiness will return. He might not understand that when he is two or three, but when you have said it to him through the years, by the time he is older he or she will come to understand it well.
This is not just for desires, anytime a disturbing thought comes for the child, by then the child remembers that in order to not to lose his peace he has to let go of that thought. This way the child learns Art of Living. This way the child knows how to keep himself or herself in balance. And there is nothing, nothing more precious than teaching the child from childhood how to not go with the feelings, emotions and thoughts that are causing him pain and stress. And by the time they get bigger, those are the people that we look up to and say, “Look, how much equanimity they have.” And that is because they learned from childhood how to let go, how to discriminate between what keeps them unhappy and what brings their happiness back. And they have enough practice by then to let go of the one that is not profitable. And that I would say is teaching the child the Art of Living from the very beginning of their lives.