by Renée Hall, Compass Winter 1997
Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
The soul that rises with us, our life’s Star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting,
And cometh from afar:
Not in entire forgetfulness,
and not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home:
Heaven lies about us in our infancy!
“Trailing clouds of glory” is the secret and source of a child’s innate trust and sincerity. Adults who have children in their care have a sacred responsibility to help them cherish and nurture their precious birthright. Keeping in touch with his or her “life’s star” by trusting intuition strengthens a child’s discretion and in turn the knowing of right from wrong.
Sadly, the influences of our material and cynical world erode the growing child’s natural tendency of knowing and trusting. Forgetting and losing touch with one’s higher nature, especially in adolescent years, leads to confusion, disillusion and may even impede potential inner growth.
Recent media headlines calling for a moral crusade reflect a strong social concern about the lack of morals and ethics as the cause of unruly behaviour and violence among the younger generation. But what sort of example has the older generation set? Children instinctively mimic and copy; role models play a vital part in moulding character and destiny of the young. A gentle, yet firm, good humoured, sincere and sympathetic adult is more conducive to like behaviour than any number of lectures or books on morality. Examples of kindness and courtesy sink into the mind and become habitual in the child’s thoughts and conduct.
Images too, create indelible impressions; fertile yet fragile young imaginations need tending and protection. As a nourishing diet builds a strong body, so wholesome and pure associations create a balanced mind, and with it, security and well being for the future.
Young ones, especially those who are despondent and frustrated with their lives, need recognition and encouragement of their intrinsic and unique worth. What relief and comfort to be reminded of their natural birthright: that their very best self is as close as can be to eternal, constant and beautiful inner source that can always be trusted.
But as a torch can’t properly light the way if the glass is besmirched with grime, so the radiance from an individual’s innermost flame is dimmed by the obstinancy of the meaner self obscuring this pure beam. Yet even the recalcitrant will occasionally blink from the flicker of conscience that ignites from this inner beacon.
Many of today’s parents, minders and teachers often struggling to cope with difficult youngsters do demonstrate admirable patience and kindness, and wisely gain children’s confidence and improvement because they seem to focus less on tiresome traits and more on their better natures.
The young have an inborn sense of logic and justice, so the universal principle of consequences – involving individual responsibility for one’s own actions helps to make sense of the underlying reason and necessity to make virtue a habit. What a boon to realise that habits, selfish or unselfish weave the fabric of character and so gradually colour the dye of one’s future destiny.
However, as Theosophy teaches, an individual destiny cannot be separate – each one is part of the Whole – so thoughts and acts impinge on and affect others for better or worse. Understanding and appreciating the practical implications of universal oneness then explains why unselfish living is essential. Encouraging children to be competitive from an early age is going against the very grain of Nature which is everywhere demonstrates cooperation. Learning to be thoughtful and kind to others would surely bring about “the kingdom of heaven” on earth.
Is it any wonder that some young people get disheartened and lose their way when there is also such pressure on intellectual attainment? Another remedy to help restore instability may be regaining a balance of head as well as heart learning. This would enable youngsters to have a greater measure of confidence in their own judgement and a worthier control of their lives.
“But even ignorance is better than Head-Learning with no Soul-wisdom to illuminate and guide it”