Question: In schools of psychology they train students in the technical application of counseling but not how to act with wisdom with unique individuals in unique situations. Do you think this sort of wisdom is teachable? lf so, what suggestions would you make?

Answer: Wisdom is not something that you teach. No. You learn by seeing the examples. And sometimes even by making mistakes. Wisdom comes out of experience. Wisdom comes from within. It’s almost like a fruit ripening. By its maturity, the color, the flavor, the taste, everything, comes. Nobody can teach the fruits to become ripe but we can give them enough nourishment, good sunlight and protection from animals. You can do all that but you cannot make the fruit grow.

Often I hear even our psychologist friends say to me, “How did you think of this answer? We were never taught this way.” I was never a psychologist. For a long time I didn’t even know what psychology was. The answers should come from within. By your well-balanced mind, beautiful ideas come from within. Even if it doesn’t come from within, you will receive those ideas from the atmosphere, from the cosmic mind.

School education is only partial. The Tamil word for education is kalvi. Kalvi means “to dig out.” You have it inside; the teacher is trying to dig it out. All of us have that “wisdom” but many of us are just “dumb.” The “wis” part is not there. So, add the “wis,” then up will come “wis-dom.” Yes. There’s a simple proverb: “lf there is pudding in the pot, then only can the spoon take it out.” lf there is no pudding in the pot, what can the spoon take out? Nothing. So you all have the pudding. The teachers are spoons. Your psychology comes from your own wisdom, not simply what he said or she said, what Jung said, what Freud said. It should be known as what you say.

Q: What’s the best way to help a teenager learn to set goals and focus on them? I’m speaking from a teacher’s perspective, not the parent’s.

Answer: Teachers, please teach the parents first. Because the children will follow the parents. They should have a good example at home. And the school also; the teacher should also set a good example. You don’t simply tell the students what to do and you don’t do it. Children are like good apes. They try to imitate you. Words are not going to teach them. I have seen many cases like that. During the ‘60s, thousands and thousands of children became hippies. lf you asked them, “What made you run away from home?” they would say, “We don’t see any good example there. My dad used to advise me not to drink or smoke while he himself would have a cigarette in one hand, whiskey in the other hand.” They don’t set examples.

Children are beautiful people. Instead give them examples. Show them what you are doing. Let them follow you. At the same time, if you want to advise them, don’t ever tell them, “Don’t do that, don’t do that, don’t do that.” Give them the pros and cons: “This is the situation. lf you do it, this will be the result. lf you don’t do it, this will be the benefit. So I leave it to you. You’re an intelligent boy, intelligent girl, so I leave it to you. You choose.”

During the ‘60s, I never asked the hippies who came to me not to do anything. I simply presented the facts, the pros and cons. They were intelligent beings. They didn’t know what was right and what was wrong, so you tell them, present it to them. The choice is theirs. Because, if you tell them, “You don’t, you don’t, you don’t,” they don’t want to listen to you anymore. They say, “l know what I am doing, you don’t have to tell me anymore.”

In the home, parents say, “Don’t do this, don’t do that.” In the church its, “Don’t do, don’t do, don’t do.” In the school, too, it’s “Don’t do, don’t do.” Children have a phobia against “Don’t do.” Sometimes the parents ask me, “How come we tell them and they don’t ever do it, but, then when they come to you they stop doing it. Are you a magician?” Yes, sometimes people question me, “My son doesn’t want to listen to me, but he does everything that you say. What is the secret?” I say, “l never tell them not to do anything.”

Take, for example, dating. Young people say they want to have dates and physical contact before marriage. It’s the same thing as if you were to pick up an apple and ask the shopkeeper, “How much is this? Is it good?” Can you take a bite and then if it’s good, you buy it, otherwise you don’t want to? No, but that’s what you are doing in bed. You try it out, and then if you don’t like the person anymore, someone has to eat the same bitten apple. How many times are you going to be bitten by people? Are you worse than an apple? No, I don’t like that idea.

Ganja, grass. Why do you want to do that? “Oh, I want to get high.” OK, alright, how many times you have to do it to get high? “I am trying, I come down, get high, come down, get high.” So what’s the good of it? Getting high is a natural state. Even with your food and your vegetables, you want organic—no chemicals should be used. Food should be free from chemicals.

Your samadhi can be with chemicals. Why not organic samadhi? Because in those days, they themselves said, “Oh, it should be organic vegetables, no chemicals.” I appreciate that. But then why do you want to put chemicals in your body to get high? Are you worse than a vegetable?

Simply present the situation to them, that’s all. So I leave it to you. They’re intelligent kids. Advise them in the right way. At the same time, you follow the same advice and set good examples.

– Swami Satchidananda


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