That is really the duty of the parents — to help the children not to fall into imitation…
Q:SOON I WILL BE SPENDING A FEW DAYS WITH MY TWO TEENAGE DAUGHTERS. THEY WANT A FULL-TIME MOTHER AND ARE ANGRY THAT I HAVE CHOSEN TO BE WITH YOU INSTEAD OF THEM. I AM TORN, BECAUSE ALTHOUGH I HAVE BEEN TOLD THAT MY GREATEST GIFT TO THEM IS GETTING FREE, IT IS ONLY AN IDEA. ON THE OTHER HAND, MY DESIRE FOR APPROVAL FOR BEING A GOOD MOTHER IS VERY STRONG AND I FEEL GUILTY BEING WITH YOU WHILE THEY CONTINUE TO SUFFER ALONE.
WOULD YOU PLEASE TALK ABOUT HOW TO BREAK FREE OF SOCIETY’S CONDITIONING ABOUT MOTHERHOOD?
Everything depends on a very simple understanding. The whole idea that children are your possession is wrong. They are born through you but they do not belong to you. You have a past; they have only future. They are not going to live according to you. To live according to you will be almost equivalent to not living at all. They have to live according to themselves — in freedom, in responsibility, in danger, in challenge. That’s how one becomes strong.
Parents down the ages have carried the idea that children belong to them, and that they have to be just carbon copies of them. A carbon copy is not a beautiful thing, and existence does not believe in carbon copies; it rejoices in originality.
Once you understand that your children do not belong to you — that they belong to existence, you have been just a passage — you have to be grateful to existence that it has chosen you to be a passage for a few beautiful children. But you are not to interfere in their growth, in their potential. You are not to impose yourself upon them. They are not going to live in the same times, they are not going to face the same problems; they will be part of another world. Don’t prepare them for this world, this society, this time, because then you will be creating troubles for them. They will find themselves unfit, unqualified.
You have to help them to grow beyond you; you have to help them not to imitate you.
That is really the duty of the parents — to help the children not to fall into imitation. Children are imitative, and naturally, who are they going to imitate? The parents are the closest people. And up to now parents have enjoyed it very much that their children are just like them. The father feels proud because his son is just like him; he should be ashamed that his son is just like him. Then one life is wasted; then his son is not needed — he was enough. Because of this wrong conception of pride in children imitating you, we have created a society of imitators.
One of the most famous Christian books was written by Kempis: IMITATION OF CHRIST. It is almost second to THE HOLY BIBLE. One great Christian theologian and a world-famous author of many, many treatises, Stanley Jones, used to stay with me whenever he used to come to my city. He was continuously going around the world, and he always kept the book, IMITATION OF CHRIST. Once I told him, “If you really understand, then this book should be burned.”
To teach anybody to imitate Christ is to destroy that person. One Christ is enough, more than enough. Many, many Christs carrying their crosses on their shoulders would make a very hilarious scene… and everybody proclaiming himself to be the only begotten son of God!
The word `imitation’ has never been condemned, but it should be condemned. The religious founders have been wanting people to imitate them, the parents have been wanting their children to imitate them; the teachers, the professors, the priests — everybody is wanting children to imitate them. The children become a mass phenomenon; carbon copies of many people… much ado about nothing!
I remember, I must have been seven years old and a friend of my father’s who had not seen me, who had not come for seven years… he had gone for a long pilgrimage around the Ganges. Hindus do that — go around the whole Ganges, both sides. That is thousands of miles, deep in the Himalayas, dangerous valleys, mountains. After seven years he came and he wanted to see me. And he said to my father, “His eyes look like yours,” and to my grandfather, “His nose looks like yours,” and to my uncle, “His face looks like yours.”
I said, “Wait! Does anything look like me? Am I here or not? You are being utterly disrespectful to me.” He was shocked. He could not conceive that it would be a disrespect, because this is commonly done, every day, in every home: the child’s eyes look like the mother’s, his face looks like the father’s. And they all feel proud; and nobody bothers about the child, whether anything looks like him or not.
But I made it clear to him, “Just take your words back, because I can say to you that my eyes don’t look like my father’s. You have another look. And my face does not look like my uncle’s — how can it look…? I have my own eyes and I have my own face, and I am going into the world with my face and with my eyes.”
He asked to be forgiven. Later on he told my father, “Your son seems to be dangerous. I have never seen anybody so assertive — and at this age!”
My father said, “At first we used to feel very embarrassed by the things he did or said, but now we have started feeling proud, because he seems to be right. You are not the first man who has compared my eyes with his — many others have done that. And he has taken me to the mirror and told me, `Look, they are not the same.’ And I have to say to you that they are not the same; he is right.”
The whole of humanity has lived in such a wrong way, and for so long, that we have completely forgotten that there can be some other way, that there can be an alternative.
You are here with me. In fact, you should make your children understand that this is a great opportunity for you, to be yourself: “If I was with you there is every possibility that, knowingly unknowingly, I may treat you habitually — just the old things, behaving the way my parents have behaved with me — and that would be ugly.”
And tell them not to feel angry at me; rather, bring them to me sometimes. Once in a while, when they have holidays, let them come to me. They will understand me more clearly than you, because they are fresher, younger, closer to nature, yet unspoiled. They are not going to be angry at me.
Once they start understanding me, they will be proud of you — not feeling that they have been abandoned by you, but feeling that they have been given freedom, which is the greatest gift possible in the world. And your children start feeling proud of you, because you are one of the rarest mothers who can give them freedom, and bring them to a man who can help them see how to be free and how to be responsible… how to be oneself.
In this world of imitators, how to be original and authentic? — because only those few individuals who are themselves feel fulfilled. Others simply live miserably, hoping that tomorrow things will be better; but that tomorrow never comes.
Once your children start understanding something of what I am doing here and why you are here, they will be proud of you. And their being proud of you will immediately erase the feeling of guilt in you.
You are feeling guilty that you have left children alone — that perhaps this is not right. According to the old mind, it is not right. According to the old mind everything has to be taught: they are not to be allowed to be themselves; they have to be molded into a certain ideal. This very process of molding is going to kill them. And there are corpses all around the world — moving, doing things — but I say that they are corpses because they are not themselves. If they had been given freedom, if they had been given a chance to grow naturally, to be themselves, they would never have been the person they are. And only then would they have been able to find a certain contentment and satisfaction.
You need not feel guilty. Those who are destroying their children, they should feel guilty. Giving children freedom…. And once in a while you will be going, once in a while you will be with your children and that is a pure gift, to be with them once in a while, because then you can be loving. You have gathered so much love; for so many days you have been far away. There has been so much longing. You will shower upon them your whole love. They will see only your loving being.
Twenty-four hours being with them, every day, year in year out — you cannot remain loving. You are bound to be angry, you are bound to be jealous; you are bound to be everything that you should not be before your children, and they will learn those things from you.
My whole idea is that parents should meet their children only occasionally, so they can pour out their whole heart, and the children know their mothers and their fathers only as pure love. They don’t know that both these persons fight continuously, that they nag, they throw things at each other.
It is better that the children don’t see your ugly faces. If no child comes to know about these ugly faces, his life will be totally different. It will be a life of love, without jealousies, without nagging, without throwing things, because he had no chance to learn these things.
You need not feel guilty; those parents should feel guilty who never leave their children alone. Once in a while go and be with them, and then you can be as totally with them as possible. And once in a while bring them here.
You have to share me with your children.
If you love me, you would like your children also to love me. Don’t leave them in anger at me; that is not right. And their love towards me will help you immensely not to feel guilty.
It will help the children also to feel that it is good that you are here. They would also like to be here someday — when their educations are complete, when they are grown up and they are ready to move into life. They would like to learn more about the complexities of existence, the intricacies of life, its delights, and the art of how to achieve it.