Rule or Tool?

I had recently read an article “When Kids Embrace Hinduism” by Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami published in Hinduism Today (April 2011 edition). I was amazed by Satguru’s ability to beautifully approach a very common problem with down to Earth simplistic solution. Why was I amazed? It was the difference in the way I was seeing the problem and solution. The article was about how we can teach our kids the values and tools provided by Hinduism so that can embrace it. I may have followed what I have been told by my parents without having proper understanding. In general, earlier generations easily absorbed and followed what their parents taught them. This may be in term of their culture & tradition, religion…etc. The current generation appears to question everything. Asking questions is not a bad thing. Questions do not imply not willing to follow or accept. A good reasoning appears to be essential for the younger generation to accept the values of our tradition and religion. But how many of us know the answers to the questions which the younger generations have? Did we ask these question when we were young? If yes, did we get a convincing answer? Even if we had an answer, but if it was not convincing, how can we have the interest and tell the younger generation to follow what we do or did? Sometime we understand the necessity. But how do we communicate this information to our kids? It is a challenge. But why is it a challenge? Did we take time to think about the value? Did we think about communicating them to the kids? Are we prepared to answer their questions? The answer is most likely a no. Often we don’t take time to ponder on these questions. When our ignorance is highlighted then we are challenged :). The key is to take some time and think about these. We may not find an answer to our questions. It is only wise to seek Guru’s help. Why not take advice from anybody? I will leave this as exercise to the readers :).
What was unique about Satguru’s approach? Satguru’s approach was to provide the fundamental understanding and tools so that it can be readily accepted by the younger generation kids rather than forcing rules on them. Kids rebel when imposed with too many rules.
What was the fundamental understanding did Satguru talk about? Satguru talks about two big ideas. The first idea was “What you think, that you become”. The second idea is that “we are soul”. Isn’t interesting why Satguru choose the word “idea”. I find it beautiful. Satguru is merely suggesting the concept but in no way enforcing them. Everything is an idea for the kids. Parents influence what ideas are implanted in their children. It is beautiful to sow the seeds of truth. Satguru further explains our three-fold nature – Spiritual, Intellectual, and Instinctive. What is instinctive nature? This is essentially consists of our lower nature, animal instincts. Intellectual nature is our faculty of reason and logical thinking. It is the source of discriminating thought. Our spiritual nature is the intuitive nature. Having these fundamentals, Satguru is answering three questions which kids have. Why are we vegetarian? Why must we go to the temple every week? Why can’t I listen to Hip-Hop music? What has these questions got to do with the big ideas. Satguru beautifully links them.
Why are we vegetarian?
I have been a vegetarian throughout this lifetime. Did I have a question regarding this to my parents? No. I was born and brought up among vegetarians. Being vegetarian was natural to me. Eating meat involves butchering. How can we take a life for a living being for our sense of taste? Don’t we have other options? This was my thinking and I used pity the animals. After reading Satguru’s answer and comments, it is great to know how lucky I am. Thank you God. I have one less thing to worry about or work on. We become what we eat. Food is our choice. If we choice to eat meat, we are simply agreeing to butcher the animal, take away a life in my opinion. We are as good as what we eat. If we eat healthy food we have better chances of being healthy. Satguru says that by eating meat, we are strengthening our instinctive nature or the animal nature rather than being in the desired spiritual nature which is being radiant and blissful. Is the big idea being used here? In India, being a vegetarian is not a hassle. There are several choices and vegetarian food are commonly available. Surviving in the US as a vegetarian is possible but a little bit of a challenge. I have found California to be a better vegetarian friendly sate now compared to a decade back. Do the kids have the same vegetarian choice in their School’s cafeteria? Do they yield to peer pressure? Have you talked to them? Please do talk to them about the importance of being vegetarian.
Why must we go to the temple every week?
This traditional way provides a means to connect with our Soul nature which is bliss. We can tell our children to visit temple in state of discontent, receive the blessings of God and go away uplifted and happy. Hey, here is a tool again. Satguru tells what exactly happens that enables us to reconnect to our Soul nature. By visiting a temple and praying God, God’s blessing clears the mind and auro which may be holding congested thought forms and emotions. I was reminded about something I was told by a HR person when I came to the US. This person advised me to set an appointment with the PCP of my choice and visit him when I was healthy (now). This way you don’t have to go through the process of understanding how the system works in US and get immediate attention when required. Like wise when we develop the practice to go to the Temples and talk to God, in times of real need we have a tool. Just to know that I have someone to talk to and some one who understands me and some one who helps me handle the situation is a big relief. Isn’t?  Of course, visiting temples not only helps our emotions to stabilize but also takes us deeper within oneself and ultimately find the bliss within.
Why can’t I listen to Hip-Hop music?
Most of us know how profound the influence of music on our state of consciousness is. Again, Satguru beautifully uses the basic idea of “You become what you think”. Satguru also tells that it is important to avoid music and lyrics of lower consciousness.  As stated in this magazine “The drug culture and its demonic music erode the very fabric of human character and culture”. When the child catches this idea, her music preference will automatically change. This will avoid listening to crude, negative hip-hop music and listen only to genre’s higher strains. As a child, I have listened to music and songs on God. These were soothing music. Like me many of the Indians would have been exposed to devotional songs at a very young age. Can we make it a practice to play such music and songs of higher nature in our home daily? This would greatly influence the kids. Not just the kids but adults equally as well :).
Satguru’s words are so simple but yet profound. Rules? No, let us provide tools! Let us take some time to think about the values we have learned and pass it to the next generation. Let us at least make an attempt to understand the values and providing a sensible answer to our children.

-Sanjai

4 Responses to “Rule or Tool?”

  1. Venugopal Says:

    Dear Sanjai,

    This is a very thought provoking article. I’m very happy with the depth of knowledge and thinking this article has. It also justifies the title of the book “Hinduism Today” and tries to answer the keys questions from these younger generation kids. The way the “ideas” are beautifully linked to the questions is amazing. Also i think “Why can’t I listen to Hip-Hop music?” is also linked to the idea that we are Soul. Because divine music often makes us forget the surroundings. So it is well linked to both the big ideas. I will think more on additional questions that could be linked to these ideas. Thank you so much for sharing this article.

    -Venu

  2. Sriram Says:

    Dear Sanjai,
    Thank you for sharing this nice article. The two ideas given by Satguru is really wonderful. These ideas helps one be reminded of what one actually is (soul) and what one becomes with their choice of action(food/music/going to temple). True that Divine music is always soothing and has a great influence on us. The bhajans are an excellent example for that.

    -Sriram

  3. Shankar Says:

    Dear Sanjai,
    Nice article and very relevant in today’s life. You have titled the article nicely as Rule or Tool. I guess we can extend it to everything in life.

    What you think that you become is very true and has a deep meaning. I get more and more affirmations of this in life.

    Learning about our three-fold nature i.e spiritual, Intellectual & Instinctive is very interesting. To me i can always use this as a scale to evaluate which nature is dominating in me and elevate myself to the higher nature. Thank you very much.

    I am sure a lot of people will benefit from this article. Thanks for spreading the wisdom. Spreading the words of Satguru is a highest service in itself and together with following the words of our Guru is devotion to the core.

  4. Priya Says:

    Dear Sanjai,

    This article is a wonderful guide for everyone. You have portrayed very well your thoughts as well. The concept of providing tools rather than rules is wonderful. Kids and all of us as well, prefer tools rather than rules. But sometimes rules works wonders (parents and Guru’s can relate well to this), the combo works miracles. :) By providing reasons for the things to be followed it helps children have a better understanding. Satguru has addressed very well the important topics.

    “What you think, that you become” and also your surrounding influences you. Our Guru knew that we all ignorant children need to be surrounded by activities of higher frequencies. That’s why our D2D activities involve Service, Bhajans, Knowledge series, Sharing and Potlucks with Sattvic food.

    - Priya

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