Teenage

Posted: 16/07/2013 in Routine part 2

Be one to whom the mother is a God. Be one to whom the father is a God. Be one to whom the teacher is a God. Be one to whom the guest is a God

Keep Teaching, Keep Loving

The more things change, the more they stay the same, it seems. Children are perfect devas until puberty, when so many changes come, when prarabdha karmas — the results of past actions they bring with them to live through in this birth — begin to manifest and the growing-up process intensifies. Is there a set way, a rule book, for raising Hindu children in our contemporary society? I think not. But the basic principles of Hinduism have not failed. No, not at all. Teach the young adults to look ahead mentally into the future before making a decision, and to base their decisions for life on the value judgments of Sanatana Dharma as well explained in Dancing with Siva, Hinduism’s Contemporary Catechism, here in Living with Siva, Hinduism’s Contemporary Culture and in Merging with Siva, Hinduism’s Contemporary Metaphysics. This Master Course trilogy is all that’s needed for a fine future for young adults. What are these values? Peace; harmony within the home; tolerance for others; appreciation of the wisdom of those who have gone before us and of those who are older; purity of thought, word and deed; chastity until marriage; and, above all, cooperation and patience in choosing the right partner in life, for marriage is actually the joining of two families.

Marriage is not merely an individual decision between two people who are sexually attracted to each other. No,not at all. A marriage, to be successful, needs the support both of the young man’s family and the young lady’s. The days are going away very fast when, through the dowry system, the girl buys herself a husband or the boy commands a price to take her into his home as a servant girl for his mother. All this should be explained time and time again to children who are growing up with mixed values. After all, they spend more time with their peers than they do with their parents in today’s world! This means that the parents have to actively teach them as well, and talk and talk and talk on well-rehearsed subjects to keep their children in the home, out of harm’s way and guided into a substantial, happy marriage in which the bride and the groom’s parents get along famously. It is a circle of love when two families marry along with their children.

These matters must be discussed when children are young, before puberty. Give many examples from your life and the successful lives of others they and you know. Later, when they reach the stage of puberty, watch out, for they may reject everything they have heard. But the knowledge is in there, deeply buried in their subconscious mind, just waiting to burst out when the right moment comes. So, even when they are not inclined to listen or discuss, you can know they are hearing. And you can be sure they are listening when you gossip about someone who is experiencing a similar problem they are facing — a high school senior you read of in the paper who is in dire circumstances, or a story with a moral that you have creatively thought up to put across the point that you are trying to make. Yes, they are listening, because who is it on planet Earth that does not just really, really love to hear a good story. Your well-placed parable will lift up the vasanas you implanted early on.

Tapas of the The Teen Years

When your adolescents make the decision that you want them to make, never, ever say, “I told you so.” Just bow your head and say, “Darling, you are making a wise decision.” Believe it or not, when they are not listening and you are talking, they are hearing, and what you are saying is going deep into their subconscious state of mind, which never sleeps. So, be tactful in what you say, and say it always with a smile and plenty of healthy ayurvedic sweets (not made with white sugar, but with jaggery or honey, or raw sugar if these are not available). We don’t want tooth decay and diabetic conditions from highly processed white sugar. It is too expensive and time-consuming to treat these home-created ailments. Don’t you agree? Good health — mental and physical — begins or ends in the home.

Teenagers are suffering the pangs of sex, desire and distrust, independence and all sorts of other things. They are as if sick during this time. In Moscow one cold 1990 winter, astrophysicist Carl Sagan once told me they are poisoned by their own hormones. This is nothing new. Over two thousand years ago, the Greek philosopher Plato lamented, “What is happening to our young people? They disrespect their elders. They disobey their parents. They riot in the street, inflamed with wild notions. Their morals are decaying. What is to become of them?” Not much has changed, has it? So, be the mother, father, nurse, and doctor. Talk together and work out a strategy for the seven years from age thirteen to nineteen. It will be over in only seven years. Does this seem like a long haul? Does getting through it seem like an impossible dream? It surely does, but teenage trials are a natural part of the extended family, the joint family, the nuclear family and even of the no-family-at-all. Most of all, realize that you will surely win out if you persist in love and understanding. Before long, they will be raising their children in the very same way and loving you for how you had the patience, willpower, forbearance and love — mainly love — to see them through. Proceed with confidence. Get a strategy, a battle plan, if it’s all that bad. Stand up straight, be willing to take insult, disobedience and be shamed in the very home in which you have raised them. Similarly, a nurse does not pay all that much attention to the ranting and raving of a patient who is delirious. Reason does not rank that high as a quality for the teenager. But to tell them that would be to alienate them, for in their view they are so, so much more intelligent than you are in the ways of the world. And that may well be true, as they, we must never forget, spend more time with their peers than at home. You, the parents, bear the handicap of this and must in all fairness compensate.

When you have successfully performed your seven-year tapas of bearing up under the pain of the teenage trials, truly you will enjoy great satisfaction and be able to sit back and smile. Remember and be assured that it won’t last forever. It truly won’t. Have compassion and give some leniency, for during this time they are all mixed up inside; they are, they surely are. They are facing an uncertain future in an unsure world, becoming adults, keeping in with their peers, keeping in with their parents, facing marriage, job, career and community expectations. No wonder so many ki ll themselves because their parents just did not understand and were not there for them at a time when they truly, truly needed them. Such a death of a child is on the heads of the parents. Don’t let this happen in your family. Please don’t. Be a mom. Be a dad. Be a nurse. Be a doctor. And, most of all, be a friend — their friend, their closest friend — during this tumultuous, turbulent, troublesome time called teenage.

A Story of Heartbreak

Here is a letter a discouraged Malaysian Hindu girl wrote to her parents just before she attempted to end her life at age eighteen. One of the main reasons she cited for this attempt was too much pressure coming from her parents. It was published in the Malaysia edition of HINDUISM TODAY.

“Dear Mom and Dad: You’ll never understand why I did this. Never. In your opinion, you always did what was best for me. You always knew what was best for me. You always believed I was your naive, irresponsible little girl who always needed your hand to hold on to. You thought it was necessary to use the sharp edge of your tongue to keep me on the right track.

“But that was the biggest problem — you were the ones who chose that track for me. I never had any say in my own life. Did you realize that that right track became a psychological prison for me? That your leading hand became a set of chains for me? That the sharp side of your tongue got to be a barbed wire that was continuously lashing out at me? No, you never did.

“You have said many things to me when you were angry, and you always excused yourself by saying that you weren’t in your senses when you said them. But did you realize how much those things could have hurt me? No. You never even thought about it. How about if I called you a b . . . . when I was angry? Would you excuse that with the same reasoning? I think not.

“Didn’t you ever stop to think that maybe I should have some say in what I wanted to do with my life? You decided which college would be the right one for me to attend and what academic field I should go into. The college, of course, had to be the most prestigious and elite one, so you could brag to your friends about it. You never thought that maybe I wanted something more than school and books, but that was never important to you. You only wanted me to achieve academically so your friends would be duly impressed. That was the same reason that you wanted me to become a doctor. I didn’t want anything to do with it.

“You never realized that maybe I had wanted a social life, to make real friends for once in my life. When I told you that, you scoffed at me and told me that we Indians were so much superior that we didn’t need to deal with them. There was never anything in my life that you let me have any control over. When I finally met someone who meant something to me, you two couldn’t handle the fact that maybe someday I would learn to control my own life and rid myself of your manipulations. So, then you decided who it was that I was going to see and who it was that I didn’t. You forced me to break the first real relationship that I ever had in my life. I was constantly harassed by you about him. You told me that I was disgracing the family name. ‘…what would everyone say?’ You destroyed everything for me. This ‘relationship’ between us is nothing but a farce. And there is no reason to continue it. I have searched for some way to escape you, but I have come up empty handed. And now, unable to do anything else, I want you to understand the meaning of ’empty handed.’ Always remember that you can only control someone for so long. Now you must live with this guilt. I hope you will never be able to forgive yourself.”

“You never realized that maybe I had wanted a social life, to make real friends for once in my life. When I told you that, you scoffed at me and told me that we Indians were so much superior that we didn’t need to deal with them. There was never anything in my life that you let me have any control over. When I finally met someone who meant something to me, you two couldn’t handle the fact that maybe someday I would learn to control my own life and rid myself of your manipulations. So, then you decided who it was that I was going to see and who it was that I didn’t. You forced me to break the first real relationship that I ever had in my life. I was constantly harassed by you about him. You told me that I was disgracing the family name. ‘…what would everyone say?’ You destroyed everything for me. This ‘relationship’ between us is nothing but a farce. And there is no reason to continue it. I have searched for some way to escape you, but I have come up empty handed. And now, unable to do anything else, I want you to understand the meaning of ’empty handed.’ Always remember that you can only control someone for so long. Now you must live with this guilt. I hope you will never be able to forgive yourself.”

 

Keep the Doors Open

Many parents hesitate teaching Hinduism to their children as they do not want to make them different than their school chums. But it is only a “storybook Hinduism” that would do that. We do not need stories these days that were created for a society that no longer exists. We do need the philosophical, metaphysical and psychological Truths which are as eternal as space, time and gravity. These should be well implanted into their minds. One is never too young or too old to learn the Eternal Truths that never fail. World thinking is built on only a few Truths and more than a few false concepts. Never give up on your young adults, whatever the problems that arise. They will be just fine with you, their parents, by their side all along the way.

Yes, your children need both of you as friends, someone to come home to when the going gets rough, someone who accepts and loves and, in heartfelt tolerance, tries to understand. It is possible, you know, to close the door on them in your hearts and minds, especially when they are not obeying. Remember that there are others out there who will take them in and may lead them even further astray. Be a friend. Don’t force them out of your hearts and minds. Always keep the doors of a compassionate heart, loving arms and an understanding mind open. Listen to their problems and come forward for their needs, even when you may not agree with them or approve of what they are going through. Remember, three hugs a day keeps trouble away. This is modern Hindu Dharma. This is ancient Hindu Dharma. This is living Siva’s contemporary culture.

Young people have to prove for themselves the basic principles of Sanatana Dharma. Some go at it in a straightforward way and others go about it in a roundabout way, trying to disprove everything, and therefore proving it. What is the straightforward way? Accepting it as it is and trying to prove it also by relating it to your own life experience. We should not be discouraged with young people if we find they reach a certain age and pull away a little bit. They can come to understand the law of karma by going through a few experiences and finding out how they themselves created those experiences. They have to have those basic realizations in this life if they didn’t have them in a previous life. If they had these basic realizations in a previous life very, very strongly, their confidence in the teachings would be very strong. Those things carry over from life to life, and in the end the soul builds on them.

The new breed of swamis that have come up in the past three decades relate well to the young adults who were born as Hindus but raised as modern youth with little knowledge of their hereditary religion. These swamis know the problems, the pitfalls and some of the solutions. They, too, were raised “modern” and by their own conviction learned Eternal Truths and now preach them with a vigor and practical clarity that is unsurpassed. Introduce your young adult to them, and he or she will find an understanding friend and religious mentor.

When we are young, the old ways can seem stiff, old-fashioned or just plain silly. Help your young adult see into the reasons and discover the meaning in our culture, philosophy and religion. Then the Sanatana Dharma will belong to them, too, never to be lost, but to be preserved and passed along to their children when the time comes and the cycle begins again.

 

Education and Career

Many youth are pushed into professions by their family, even if they are not suited to that profession. They graduate and ask themselves, “What do I do next? Do I get a job near my family home? Do I go to a far-off country and seek employment?” Family pressure is on, and comments, sometimes hurtful, are made to motivate the youth. But in today’s world youth have to think on their feet, take their life into their own hands and make their own goals for their future, especially if they have been abused by senseless beatings from angry parents whose cruel hearts drive them from their home.

The long-term goals of education and career should be planned out ahead of graduation. Ideally the planning takes place with the family, but only if it is a cooperative, reasonable family that has enough love to foresee their youth fulfilling happy lives with productive futures. As we saw earlier, too harsh an upbringing can lead to their taking their life with their own hands.

In the United States before the First and Second World Wars, people were committed — committed to their family, to their community, to their country, to the growth of the nation and to their business. Everyone knew what they were going to do with the rest of their life by the time they were eighteen or nineteen years of age. They went forward and lived out their life as planned. When I was seventeen, I knew what I would be doing right now. That is commitment, clarity of mind, the ability to see a direct path into the future and then to have the character and the willpower to live to make that path manifest. Society was stable, society was strong, and there were simpler problems.

After the First World War and Second World War, the family unit began to break up, and people were no longer committed. The word of the times was not commitment, but one that also started with a “c.” It was choices. “I’ll make a choice and see where it leads me. Then I will make another choice and see where that leads.” People didn’t stick with one occupation and perfect it. They dabbled half-heartedly at ten occupations which they didn’t perfect, and the quality of work suffered as a result. The opportunities of choice were so grand. Parents would encourage their children “Make your own choice of what you are going to do with your life. We just want you to be happy.” The same child was not allowed to make his own choice about what clothes to wear or what foods to eat. But he was allowed to make the really important choices, including: “What are you going to do with your entire life?” and “Whom are you going to marry?” Of course, to buy a car he was taught by his parents to read Consumer Reports and pick just the right one. But he could take up any career and marry anyone he wanted to, just on a whim and fancy.

So Many Choices

Society drastically changed after the two world wars, and the country’s crime rate went up. Mental institutions became overpopulated, hospitals overcrowded. People who have no commitment to family, friends, community and religion end up making the wrong choices in life. And today we have a new group called the New Age which, ironically, is totally committed to being uncommitted.

Many people are not committed to anything. They take a vow, they take a pledge, but it doesn’t mean anything. Even a marriage vow or pledge doesn’t mean anything anymore. But that is not religion. That may be secular humanism. That may be existentialism. That may be just a big nothingism; but it is not religion. Religion is the acceptance of spiritual laws that guide our life. We have to make decisions and make commitments, and live up to those commitments so that we can look in the mirror every morning and say, “You did a good job with yesterday. Now what about today?” This is the ethic we need to instill in teenagers. Then the strength of the soul comes forward. When the strength of the soul comes forward, it permeates the intellectual mind. Creativity comes forth. New, inspiring, insightful thoughts that you didn’t even know you were able to think come into your mind from your superconscious, and many wonderful things begin to manifest in your life.

Nowadays the mind seems to be confused for young people and older people alike. There is too much television, too much surfing, too much input, and not enough planning, not enough talking, not enough camaraderie to sit down and plan out what you are going to do this year, next year, the year after and the year after that. But that’s how you keep your karma under control: short-term goals and long-term goals planned out according to Saiva Dharma.

Families have been asking me about careers for their maturing youth. What courses should they pursue in college? Higher education should prepare a youth for what he is going to do in life. This applies to women as well. That is why we are educated, to prepare ourselves for our future. There is no other point of being educated but for that. If a young lady is going to be a homemaker, it would be wise to be educated to be a homemaker. Many women these days are married and can’t cook, don’t know how to put on a band-aid, don’t know how to take care of the children when they come, because they’ve never been educated to be a wife. Women who foresee another kind of life for themselves should choose an education that will prepare them for that. It is also wise these days for a woman who is a homemaker to have an education in a profession, such as nursing, that she can fall back on in case misfortune befalls the family, a death or a divorce, so she can get a job to support the children and herself. Education is for the future career, whether it be a homemaking career or another kind of career. That is the purpose of it. There is much education now available that is just general education. It goes on and on and on. You go in wanting to know, and you come out confused at the end of it. We see this happening all the time. This type of education should definitely be avoided.

Families have been asking me about careers for their maturing youth. What courses should they pursue in college? Higher education should prepare a youth for what he is going to do in life. This applies to women as well. That is why we are educated, to prepare ourselves for our future. There is no other point of being educated but for that. If a young lady is going to be a homemaker, it would be wise to be educated to be a homemaker. Many women these days are married and can’t cook, don’t know how to put on a band-aid, don’t know how to take care of the children when they come, because they’ve never been educated to be a wife. Women who foresee another kind of life for themselves should choose an education that will prepare them for that. It is also wise these days for a woman who is a homemaker to have an education in a profession, such as nursing, that she can fall back on in case misfortune befalls the family, a death or a divorce, so she can get a job to support the children and herself. Education is for the future career, whether it be a homemaking career or another kind of career. That is the purpose of it. There is much education now available that is just general education. It goes on and on and on. You go in wanting to know, and you come out confused at the end of it. We see this happening all the time. This type of education should definitely be avoided.

The Family Profession

Nowadays many people believe that somehow it was an accident that one was born in a family of a certain profession and that the youth deserves a so-called better profession than that of the parents. But the traditional wisdom is that a person is born into a family to fulfill the profession of that family, and ideally to stay within that family business. Being raised in the family business, the person learns from a young age, even prenatally. Going into another profession, he leaves the family dharma and goes into worldly adharma. It then takes two or three generations to establish a new family dharma in that profession.

Now, of course, if the father and mother do not have a formal profession or business when their offspring are babies, from prenatal to six, whatever they are doing is absorbed and becomes the children’s habit pattern of how they should live their lives on Earth. In such conditions, the chances for the son or daughter to follow the father’s or mother’s footsteps in a formal profession at a later age, such as at puberty, lessens because the children have already been programmed, from ages one to six, to live from day to day without a goal, without strong material security, without a profession, as their mother and father did, as casual, temporary employees or students, often unemployed or seeking employment Now, of course, if the father and mother do not have a formal profession or business when their offspring are babies, from prenatal to six, whatever they are doing is absorbed and becomes the children’s habit pattern of how they should live their lives on Earth. In such conditions, the chances for the son or daughter to follow the father’s or mother’s footsteps in a formal profession at a later age, such as at puberty, lessens because the children have already been programmed, from ages one to six, to live from day to day without a goal, without strong material security, without a profession, as their mother and father did, as casual, temporary employees or students, often unemployed or seeking employment.

Then there are others who will shy away from the family profession, whatever the rationale. There are many reasons that youth reject the family profession, but the point is that it is the duty of the family to make that profession available to them, knowing this can stabilize them throughout life. Therefore, we should encourage the traditional family ideal in any case, at any age. There is great mental, emotional and physical security for the son or the daughter to follow the family vocation. Such children have observed their parents, learned from them, slowly become partners with them in life. It is not always wise to allow your children to make the decision of what they want to do, allowing them to leave the home and make a stranger wealthy in another profession because of their service to him. Lovingly encourage them to do what you do and to become an extension of yourself. The ideas of “do your own thing,” “satisfy your own desires,” “wander into a career,” “move from one career to another midway in life” are modern adharmic concepts. It may work out, but there is a fifty percent chance of failure and crippling debt. Then, too, the family has lost a great asset. The children have lost half their family connection, as they no longer have a shared interest in what mom and dad are doing, and vice versa. And the stranger, way out there, benefits. A family should not end at the puberty of its children, who then go off into other spheres of interest. It should continue and mature into father-and-son corporations, father-and-daughter

corporations, with mother and father, sons and daughters all sharing the same interests, all working to increase the family assets.

The dharma of the householder is to build up wealth and knowledge, and to pass these on to the children, generation after generation. If they are in the jewelry profession, the wealth should go to the jewelers of the next generation, not to the musicians or computer programmers. Family wealth equals community wealth. Community wealth equals national wealth. National wealth equals global abundance. Hindu elders say that by following the occupation of the father and mother one will never go hungry, even if the occupation is a meager one. This is what I learned in Jaffna, Sri Lanka, at an early age. One might not become rich, but security is virtually assured.

So, don’t be afraid to bring your sons and daughters into the family business deliberately. Get them interested. Get them working with you. Your business or occupation is what feeds them. Naturally they should be interested in it. The simple answer for modern Hindu families following the traditional grihastha dharma is to form a family corporation and bring sons and daughters at an early age into what mom and dad are doing. Educate them in the family occupation from age six to thirteen and then engage them as partners all through life. What better partners could one have? Who would be more honest and loyal than your own children? Need we say more? You have caught the idea.

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