Don’t kill beautiful minds with poor parenting and poorer leadership

Don’t restrict your child’s natural curiosity to explore the world. Be an empowering parent – let go and watch your child grow!
A friend of mine from my college days reached out to me. He lives in Mangalore. He wanted me to “inspire some confidence” into his young, 16-year-old son. We met for coffee last evening. I found the boy to be very cheerful, very positive and extremely clear about what he wanted to do. He said he loved science – all three subjects, Physics, Chemistry and Biology. He aspired to study medicine (when he finished his 12th/Junior College in Mangalore) at the Armed Forces Medical College, Pune. He wanted to be a doctor and wanted to continue sketching (his hobby) all his Life. Now, what do you tell a child who’s got all his plans mapped out? I told him this: “Be curious always. Never settle into a comfort zone. Keep seeking, keep learning, keep enquiring. Nobody can motivate you. Motivation is an inside job. Whenever you feel distracted, think of what will happen to your long-term goals. Understand that distraction is not a sin. It will only delay your journey to your dreams and goals. When you refocus on your goals, you will let go of all that which distracts you.” The young lad smiled back at me. He appeared to have understood what I had to say.
“Are you on facebook,” I asked him.
“No,” he replied sheepishly, while looking at his dad questioningly.
My friend piped in: “His (Junior) College principal has made him sign an undertaking, an oath actually, saying for the next two years he will not get on to facebook or use a mobile phone – neither at College nor at home. The principal wants to ensure that his College’s success rate to get students into premier “professional courses” is never diluted. And I support the principal’s stand wholesomely.”
I disagreed with my friend. I said that both facebook and mobile phones are enablers. They are both tools, a way of engaging with the world, I suggested. But my friend cut me short. He was clear his son should not be “corrupted” with a view that “encouraged being on facebook”. I decided not to force my view. That ended my conversation with the young chap; for the rest of the evening, my friend and I went on to talk about our lives and times…
On my auto-rickshaw ride back home from the cafe, I reflected on the myopic perspective that both parents and teachers have that inhibits the natural curiosity that children have. In today’s world, when there is so much information available on fingertips, why would anybody want to deny their children access to that information? Yes, the internet can lead you to porn sites as much as it can lead you to wikis on various subjects. Being on facebook can connect you to friends and family who share experiences and learnings that can enable you to gain an insight into how the world thrives. Yes, you can end up adding avoidable people as friends on facebook if you are not prudent. But I feel a parent’s job is to help children develop this discerning point of view. Empowering with choice, while explaining consequences, is much better than restricting children from doing things that they will be naturally curious to do. This whole view that facebook and mobile phones will corrupt a child and ruin his or her Life is reflective of the parent’s/teacher’s poor quality of thought. In my humble opinion, the moment you restrain a child, you are planting the seed of rebellion or are encouraging the child to operate with deceit. Because, whatever you bluntly deny – without adequate logic and conviction – children will find the means, one way or the other, to access it. A better approach would be to allow the child freedom of choice, have continuous conversations and if there is an over indulgence from the child, only then take restrictive steps. To employ a blanket judgment that all children will get “distracted” from academics or that they will go “astray” if they are on facebook or if they use mobile phones is poor parenting and poorer leadership.

Another point: for heaven’s sake, let’s stop obsessing over “professional” courses, “safe” careers and “95+ percentage strikes”. What we need teachers to do is to inspire the spirit of excellence in children and not to flog them to deliver grades. What we need parents to do is to imbue good values in their children and not to make academically-proficient nerds out of them. Finally, here’s the bottom-line: This is not a case for facebook or mobile phones. This is about raising beautiful, intuitive minds. Empowering children will nurture their curiosity and creativity, restraining them will only make vegetables and rebels out of them. 

Follow your intuition to arrive at your bliss!

There is nothing wrong in being reasonable, being rational and approaching Life with logic. But there will be times in Life, when what’s happening to you will defy logic, appear to be irrational and reason will cease to apply.

When all reasoning fails, simply accept Life for what it is and operate from your intuition. Each of us has an innate intuitive ability which we normally hesitate to use. Intuition works from within. It is based on what is. But our scientific conditioning leads us to time and again, dump the intuition, abandon what is, and keep seeking what should be! 

So your definition of success too is based on rationality. How much have you made in terms of assets, what position do you have in society, do you have enough cash to live a cushy Life? It is such a logical thing. If you have been around so many years, earning, and if you are an intelligent, capable person, then you must be having so much built up in your savings and investments. Now what if you have years of experience behind you, are intelligent, sincere, hardworking, and have nothing with you? Then per the world definition of success, you are a zero. A failure. You can heed that reasonable argument and give up on Life or you can look within and, now, start living! That’s when your intuition will kick in and tell you that the best kept secret about living is to live in surrender. In acceptance of what is.

This awakening is what happened to King Alexander too. He arrived in India, with his army and was about to enter the country. There at the border he found a man, with flowing beard, in his loin cloth, in deep meditation. Alexander was amused that someone could be so blissful and so peaceful doing ‘nothing’. He spoke to the man.

Alexander asked, “Are you not wasting your time? You look capable to me. Why do you sit like this wasting your time and talent away?”

The man replied: “And what else can I do and why?”

Alexander said: “You can do so many things. You can lead a far more productive Life. Look at me. I have conquered the whole world and have all the riches and all the power that my money and position can buy. And now I have come to conquer your land too!”

The man smiled and said: “And pray what will you do when you have nothing more to conquer?”

Alexander quickly shot back: “I hope that happens soon. Then I will also sit under a tree and blissfully, peacefully meditate.”

The man looked serene, glowing, as he replied, asking a defining question: “So, do you now see why I am doing what I am doing?

Intuition, the ability to relate to the real, to the Truth, to what is, is embedded in our DNA. In the mindless material chase that we set out on, thanks to our conditioning, a lot of success is defined by what you amass, accumulate, display and have to ‘spend’. By the worldly view, Buddha was a beggar, who squandered his emperorship. He could have been so successful leading men and women, as a King. But instead he threw it all away and sat under a tree in contemplation. But he did what he did because Buddha’s intuitive side overtook his logical side. And his intuition took him to the truth. And the truth took him to inner joy and happiness, to bliss.   

I am not advocating that we should abhor the worldly view. Just remember that the worldly view of success built on rational, reasonable, logical thinking can only ensure success of one kind. It cannot ensure happiness. And sometimes when Life’s design works differently for you, no reason, no logic, no rational thinking can save you. Only your intuition can. And when you think of your Life intuitively, then and then alone, will you be in bliss. Will you be a Buddha yourself.

That’s no small achievement. That’s a far more lasting, profound form of success. Isn’t that what Alexander wanted for himself too after he had finished with all his material conquests? So, when you can’t do the regular stuff__be successful per world standards__do the intuitive. It will get you to where you truly belong__surer and faster!