Parents are the first gurus. This will be my message to parents in Mauritius, Malaysia and Singapore when I visit them this September. Everything starts in the home. To change behavior in the world, we need to first change it in the home. Children taught that violence is acceptable and a way to solve problems. Swamis and spiritual teachers in unusual position of being the second guru. Swamis often spend years helping individuals undo what their first gurus, their parents, did before progress can be made if they didn't do a good job. Many people have terrible self-esteem because of their parent saying things like "How can you be so stupid?" This can be fixed.
Welcome everyone! Start with some news, wonderful news from the Katir family, that their daughter Amala just gave birth to a baby girl, in Kuala Lumpur. Congratulations.
Start with another story, it relates to Gurudeva and happened after Gurudeva's passing. I've told this story once but most of you weren't here, so I am telling it again. The Sendan family, Nathan, Miravadi and Chidambaram were in the Siddhi Vinayaga Temple in Sacramento having Namakarana for Chidambaram and Miravadi. Some of our members were there. One of the members sent me an e-mail afterwards, reported on it.
"Chidambaram was a little bit restless there for a while but then he looked up and saw Gurudeva and quieted right down."
So, this member perceived Gurudeva in his spiritual body of course, was aware that Chidambaram was looking at Gurudeva and that sight influenced Chidambaram into making him very peaceful. Chidambaram is a very special baby and that is a special member too, to be able to see Gurudeva like that. Maybe some of you saw Gurudeva this morning. He certainly felt quite present.
I also wanted to honor some special guests. We have some Gurus among us this morning. You may think, "Did some of the monks get an initiation? Where are these Gurus?" In fact, the gurus are all of you who are fathers and mothers. Yes, all
of you who are fathers and mothers are indeed gurus, the first guru.
In thinking ahead for the year, we have a new year here, I am starting to develop a talk on 'Parents as Gurus'. To take around later in the year, when we are visiting Mauritius, Malaysia, Singapore and else where. I am developing it and I thought I would share some of the preliminary aspects of it this morning. It will include, of course, Gurudeva's recent message about the war in the home. You are all familiar with that. He took it to the United Nations and spoke there before a large gathering of Spiritual and Religious Leaders, on the idea that everything starts in the home.
So if we want to change the behavior of the world, we have to change the behavior in the home. It is the way the children are raised, violently or non-violently. If they are raised with a lot of corporal punishment, that is considered a war in the home. The thought that violence is acceptable and that violence is how you solve problems. Later on, when they grow up in life, of course they express that violence, because their first guru taught them to solve problems by using violence.
That was Gurudeva's message, a very powerful message. Of course, that is an important part of the talk but I do plan to add a lot more other subjects. In fact, I am going to look for help over the next few months from all of you to contribute ideas. Many of you have had many, many years of raising children and grandchildren. Lots of experience. Plus have been teaching classes in alternatives to corporal punishment, which we call, 'Positive Discipline'. All of that experience will be very valuable in helping to mold this talk over the next few months. So we can take a wonderful message out to the world when we travel later in the year.
Swamis and other religious teachers are in an unusual position of being a second Guru. Someone else has been there first.
Consider an analogy, to dancing. If you are someone's second dance teacher, what they learned from that first teacher is really important. If they learned in an unsystematic way for many years, didn't really go at it in the correct way, then what do you have to do? You have to spend years undoing what they were taught by the first teacher, right? You can't make any progress at all. You have to undo all the mistakes, all the erroneous moves, that were taught by the first teacher.
A Swami is like that too. Gurudeva faced this time and time again. Someone comes to him as an adult, in their twenties or thirties. What does he have to do? He has to spend years helping the individual undo what the first teacher did, before any additional progress can be made.
You can see the importance here. There needs to be a good working together, to agree on some basic principles. If basic principles are agreed upon, then when a young adult approaches a Swami, the Swami can help right away. Years and years don't have to be spent undoing what was done by the first guru.
That is the idea behind the talk. You can see how important it is.
Another e-mail came in recently from a young women in her mid-twenties, married, living with her husband, who interacts with her mother quite often. The mother has always and still continues to constantly criticize her. She can never do anything right. Her mother is never happy with what she does. She has been reading 'Merging with Siva' now, for a couple of years
and she says, "Boy, before I read 'Merging with Siva', this upset me so much. I was constantly upset by my mother, constantly feeling negative thoughts about myself. Now that I've read 'Merging with Siva', I am doing better. It just upsets me a little bit. But I still wish she just wouldn't do this. Every time I get with her she just complains and complains and criticizes. I want to take care of her in her old age, but this is really hard."
So she went on like that. Fortunately, she is reading 'Merging with Siva'. But you can see the problem the fist guru created here. She created a terrible sense of self esteem. The poor young woman does not have a positive image of herself. Why is that? Because her mother created a negative one. Now, she has to work for a number of years to get rid of that negative
image. It wasn't there when she was born. It was put there by her mother.
The goal, of course, is for her to read 'Merging with Siva' and for us to encourage her more until she realizes that, Gee ... she is perfect, it is her mother who has the problem. Right? She is a perfect being, the mother has the problem of finding faults in others and verbalizing them, of not building self esteem. The young woman is in perfect shape. It is the mother who needs to learn a different form of behavior. But that may not happen. At least, the young woman reached the point where she realizes that. She takes on the attitude, "Gee ... I am just fine. It is my mother who has got the problem." But that takes a little doing.
So, how do we build self esteem? Here are some thoughts.
Avoid lowering self esteem through comments that are critical, such as, "How could you do such a stupid thing?" That is a famous one, "How could you be so stupid? How could you do such a stupid thing? What a dumb thing to do! I am sure you won't succeed at this, you are just so dumb."
You know those kinds of comments are actually made by parents. When the child hears them year after year, it goes in and creates that sense of, "Gee ... I am dumb because my parents told me so." Then a Swami has to come along and try and get that out.
There are options. When correction is necessary, only correct the behavior, not the person. Here is an example, "What you did was really foolish,." That is the behavior, right? It is not that you are foolish. "What you did was really foolish. But,
you are smart. I am sure now that you know better, you won't do that again." The behavior was foolish but the child is smart and certainly, is smart enough not to do it again. So you correct the behavior, you don't challenge the person. The behavior is stupid or foolish. But the person is never stupid or foolish.
Build self esteem through comments that praise the child in doing well. Making comments such as, "I am sure you will do well."
Here is one that Gurudeva followed very systematically. Build self esteem through creating successes for the child. For example, teaching your son how to grow something simple in the garden and then when he does it on his own, praise him. Gurudeva raised all of us on that simple principle of giving us things to do that were within our capabilities and when we did them successfully, he would praise us. Then of course, he would give us something a little bigger to do and when we did that successfully, he would praise us.
What was that doing? It was building a subconscious with an attitude of being able to be successful. "I am able to be successful. I am able to take on challenges and do them well." Why do we have that attitude? Not because somebody told us about it. But, because we actually had many, many successes and were praised for them. Because, that happened to us, we have a positive subconscious. one that feels it can do things. I can, I will, I am able. That is its natural attitude because that is the way someone was raised up.