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How to teach God to a child || On Vivekachudamani
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
16 min
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Questioner (Q): My question is about parenting. What can we do as parents to raise a child in a way that the child has an understanding of the illusory nature of the world, and at the same time nurture her urge to know the Truth? My four-year-old daughter asks me, “Daddy, why do we need God? Why?” I can’t give her ready-made answers but would also not want her to cast it away as rubbish just because she did not get an answer. What can we do in front of such questions as parents?

Acharya Prashant (AP): So, the daughter is asking “Daddy, why do we need God?” Don’t answer her. She will again ask you. If she is really a four-year-old, she will keep asking, “Daddy, why do we need God? Why?” Don’t answer. And she will again ask, “Daddy, why do we need God? Why?” Then ask her, “Why do you need an answer to this question?” That is why we need God.

“Sweety, why do we need an answer to this question?” Let her answer you. Why does she need an answer to this question? She will say, “Because if I do not get an answer, I feel dissatisfied.” Ask her, “How did you feel when you asked me thrice and I still did not answer?” She would say, “I felt bad.” And that’s the answer for why man needs God: man needs God because if he doesn’t get God, he feels bad and dissatisfied.

God is another name for realization: Prajñānam Brahm . God is the reason why a child is full of questions. Just ask the child, “Why do you have so many questions?” He will say, “Because I want to know.” Then ask him, “How do you feel when you get an answer to your questions?” He will say, “I feel good.” Tell him, tell her rather, “God is the one who makes you ask questions, and God is the one who makes you feel joyful.”

And if they say, “What is the proof that God exists?” tell them, as long as there are questions, God exists, so your question itself is the proof that God exists. Otherwise, why are you asking questions? Why don’t you just remain contented as you are? Tell them, there sits something within us that wants good answers; that is God. Your very tendency is to move towards God, and the proof of that tendency is that you always want good answers. And if she says there is no God, stop giving answers. Say, “If there is no God, then you should not have a tendency to desire good answers. If there is no God, let there be no good answers.”

God is the answer to every good question. God is a good answer to every question. Simple.

Why is everybody looking for God? No, nobody is looking for God. People are looking for good answers. So, your daughter is already a God-seeker. Any honest question is a question about God. Any honest question is a question arising from God. Any honest question is a question leading towards God.

Questions are quite Godly, you see. And here you look at questions of a four-year-old and ask, “How do I respond to them?” And she is asking, “Is there God?” The question itself is God talking as a question. What more proof do you need? And if further proof is needed, then ask her, “Why do you ask this question to papa and not to some stranger?” She will say, “I trust papa, I love papa.” Tell her, “That is God—love and trust.” It’s just that in the language of grownups, trust is called faith. But the vocabulary of a four-year-old is a little small, thankfully so. So, trust would do. Grownups have too many words, and too many words means too many divisions. So, tell her, “God is that which makes you come to me—love and trust.”

“Does God exist?” Turn the question upon her: “Does love exist? Do you love papa? If you love papa, then God exists. Full stop.” “Does God exist?” “Do you trust papa? If you trust papa, then God exists. God is another name for trust.” Teach her, instead of saying “I love you” repeatedly, she must say, “I God you.” That’s wonderful, because God is the only one that can connect ‘I’ and ‘you’. “I God you” now means, “I and God and you are all one, because God is present between the two of us.” I God you—done, finished!

Don’t try to teach God as a concept. God is something that you breathe. God is the fundamental nature. Your daughter is walking in God. We all walk only in God. Now, how can be it difficult to tell a kid about God? It must be very, very easy. But grownups, and especially knowledgeable grownups, they keep wondering and they keep expressing their helplessness: “Oh my God! God is so difficult to be taught!” God is difficult to be taught because he is your God, and ‘your God’ means your concept of God, not God. Don’t you see what you say? “Oh my God!”— my God. Getting it? Ask the same question to her: “Are you getting it? Getting it?” And if she says yes, then tell her, “That’s God.” God is another name for getting it. Every time you get it, just say “God it”, not “got it”. “Did you get it?” “I God it. Now I and it are related through God—I God it.” Now you and God and it are one, and there is understanding.

If you say, “I got it” then there is just knowledge. If you say, “I God it” then there is understanding. How can it be difficult? I am still wondering how it can be difficult to tell a little one about God. It’s far, far easier than telling you adults about God. You are the tough nuts to crack! Kids are far more easier. Take her to a beach, and when she starts running around and playing with the waves and the surf and the sand, ask her, “How does it feel?” She will say, “Great!” Ask her, “What is this greatness? Is it the sand? Is it the surf?” Ask her, “Darling, how are you feeling?” She will say, “Great!” Ask her, “Tell me what this greatness is. Does it lie in the sand?” She will say, “Well, it is related to the sand, but it doesn’t quite lie in the sand. Oh! Then it must be related to the water.” Bring a little bit of water to her and tell her, “Is this great? Right now as you are splashing and playing and shouting and running, you are feeling great. Tell me, what is this greatness? Where is that greatness? Let’s touch that greatness; let’s put our finger on that greatness. Does that greatness lie in the sand?” She will say, “Well, it appears somewhat about the sand. But the greatness is not equivalent to the sand.” She is a smart girl.

Then you bring some water to her, sea water, and say, “Does the greatness lie in the water?” She will say, “Well, it is related to the water, but it doesn’t quite lie in the water.” “Then what does it lie in? Can we touch that greatness? Can we put that in our pocket? Can we carry that greatness home so that we don’t have to come to the beach again? Let’s pack that greatness and carry it home. That will make it convenient for both of us, won’t it?” And she will say, “No papa, that greatness can’t be packed.” But you must insist, you must say, “No, we must pack that greatness and carry it home, and pack some sand, and pack a burger, pack a new pair of shoes, hairpins, pack as much as you can.”

And tell her, “Now I have packed greatness, let’s carry it home. And then at home you will get the same feeling as you are getting on this beach right now.” She will say, “No, papa, that feeling cannot be taken home. You may pack that entire world in your little packet, but still there is something here that cannot be there at home.” “What is it? What is it? Please fetch it, because I love you so much sweety, I want to give that greatness to you.” She will say, “No, it’s not about you papa. It’s when I run here, it’s when I feel free that I experience what I do.” You ask her, “Is there some way we can pick that greatness up? Is there some way I can ensure that you keep repeating ‘I am feeling great’? I want to ensure your feeling. I want to cast your feeling in stone.” She will say, “No, it cannot happen. It is not a thing.” The moment she says, “Well, there is something that is not a thing,” she knows God. The moment you can get a child to utter that there is something that is not a thing, and yet it is beautiful, yet it is something worth dying for, she knows God. That’s the moment.

Or, if you have a bit of a hard heart, if you can pretend to be a little tough, a little hard-hearted, then there is another way. Give her all her favorite toys and close her in a room, and give her whatever she wants but keep her enclosed. The best of food, and the room is climate controlled, and there is a television with the most entertaining of programs, but the door is closed. And after a while she starts knocking. You open the door and ask her, “What do you want?” She will say, “I want to come out.” You ask her, “But everything that you can have is there inside the room. Why do you still want to come out?” She will say, “Fine, I don’t want to come out. But do pass some more stuff, get me a couple of more toys, and get me some fizzy drinks.” Do that. Half an hour later she will again knock, and she will say, “I want to come out.” Ask her, “You have everything that you can imagine, you have everything that you like, you have everything that you want inside that room. Why do you still want to come out?” She will say, “Because I don’t feel free here.”

So, you ask her, “So is freedom bigger than all the toys and the food and the entertainment and stuff?” She will say, “Yes, probably. Let me come out. Don’t ask me so many questions!” Say, “I will let you come out, but you must answer then one final question: Is there some way I can give freedom to you, in the same way as I gave you toys and food and entertainment?” She will say no. She has realized God. She has realized two very important things: freedom is bigger than all the toys that a child or man can have, and secondly, freedom is not a thing. Freedom cannot be given to you in the same way a toy can be given to you. If she realizes this much, she already knows God. God is another name for freedom.

You cannot teach via concepts. Our daily experiences must be immersed in Godliness. Our daily experiences must be the very proof of Godliness. They are actually, but we must realize. We think experiences are merely experiences; they are not. All experiences are loud proofs of Godliness, provided we care to see.

Q: What is my biggest problem? What is that which I am not able to see? How easily do I get played on by the mind every day. A lot of resistance was arising while asking this question; it was like giving you a question way too open: now he can enter from anywhere and hit you with his swords, and you will be gone.

AP: So, you want to defend yourself? “What is my biggest problem? What is that which I am not able to see?” Your problem is that you think that there is something beyond the obvious that must be seen or that which you can see. There is nothing beyond that which you are seeing. You continue to think that there is something beyond the obvious; there is not. That which you are seeing is all. And I am not talking of seeing in a metaphorical sense; I am talking of seeing in a very sensory sense, very carnal sense. This is it (points around in the room) . The wall is a wall; the eyes can only look at a wall. The wall has nothing transcendental about it. Full stop.

All of man’s problems are because he is trying to look for the metaphysical in the material. Man is trying to look for God in the wall. The wall is obvious, or it is not? And that’s it. Don’t try to superimpose meanings upon the wall. The wall is just a wall. And all that your eyes can show you is walls.

Stop hunting for Godliness. You won’t be able to see Godliness with these eyes. And the moment you are surrendered to the very prakṛti of eyes, the very prakṛti of this body, you are liberated from the body. Do you know why man keeps attached to his body? Because he has high hopes from the body. Man keeps thinking that the body will deliver him the Truth, that these eyes will one day be able to look at the metaphysical, the Beyond. No, that day is not going to come; the table is just a table. Relieved? There is no mystery here. There is no mystery at all. All is obvious.

Mysticism is not about creating unnecessary mysteries. And there are so many people who conflate mysteriousness with mysticism; they keep building mysteries where there are none. A man has been recently caught in Karnataka. He has been sent notices by civic authorities. He is saying that he has some mysterious mangoes—he probably has an orchard—he says, “If you have these mangoes, then you get babies.” So, now the people are asking him, the authorities are questioning him, a legal notice has gone to him: “Show us how mangoes can give you babies.”

But that’s what. Man can believe in any nonsense because fictitious mysteries are so appealing. Because you don’t really want to plunge into the unknowable, so you keep creating an artificial unknown. Don’t you see how thrilling it is to watch a horror movie? You know that an unknown thing will spring up from somewhere at any time, and you already know that. That is the difference between the unknown and the unknowable. When you are entering to watch a horror flick, you are just entering to be titilized by the unknown. The unknown titillates; the unknowable dissolves. The unknown is a mystery; in the unknowable lies mysticism.

Man has a great taste for the unknown. So, we keep sending rockets and satellites and probes to planets. We are even planning stuff to go outside the solar system. What lies there is unknown but not unknowable, so that is quite attractive. But Truth and God, they are unknowable, so that is not very attractive to man.

Real Truth, real spirituality is not at all attractive. Fake spirituality is very attractive. In fake spirituality, fake mysteries are very tastefully manufactured. And you are told, “The wall is not just a wall; in the wall is hidden a door to the heaven!” And now you are feeling the same as you feel watching the horror flick: a door can open from anywhere any time. There is no door there; there is just a wall. The material is material.

The other day I said, spirituality is about saying, stuff is stuff and Self is Self. The wall is just a wall. Don’t pressurize yourself too much. Even if you strain your eyes to the maximum, the wall will still remain a wall. And you can sit for hours and years in front of a wall trying to discover a metaphysical meaning from it; you will not. Worse still, one day you may! One day you may just get up and say, “In the wall, I saw God!” And then you will become very respectable, and that will be the worst day in your life. There are drunkards who look at the clouds and see the entire place; they would be looking at the cloud and say, “No, you see, that army is attacking this army, and that one is the one with a sword, and that one is riding an elephant!”

If you are starting to see great meanings in things, it only means that you are drunk. Clouds are clouds. They don’t carry meanings.

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