Theosophical University Press Online Edition
I wonder how much greater it is than the wisdom of grownups — grownups with their sophisticated minds, making them think that they know everything in heaven above and in the earth beneath, and in the waters under the earth, as the saying goes. Little children with their quick instinctive minds, quick instinctive vision, unspoiled, unsophisticated, seem to know things instantly, as it were intuitively, and their questions, different in this from grownups, arise not so much out of their ignorance, but out of their desire for more knowledge, for a truer insight and outsight.
Why are the questions of little children so difficult for parents and grownups to answer? Just think over it. If we are so wise and know so much, and are so sophisticated, and think ourselves such natural and proper upbringers of the little ones, why cannot we answer their questions? Because we do not know, most of the time, and even as to those questions that we think we can answer, the so-called scientific answers, why, it is the common knowledge of the streets today that the scientists themselves have overthrown the knowledge of their forefathers in very, very large degree, and are themselves puzzled by the questions which nature, the great Mother-child puts to man's inquiring mind, or rather which man himself sees in the operations of the Mother-child.
So, what are we going to do? The little ones ask us questions, and confessedly we cannot answer them always; and the answers that we can give are also unsatisfactory to ourselves. We know that most frequently they are not good answers, and are answers that would not pass current with other adults; and yet the children have to be answered. The children have to be taught. We must give them some answer that will be satisfactory, some answers to all their questions, otherwise we give them nothing; and our children will grow up in that so-called "natural" way, lauded by shallow philosophers and unthinking visionaries, which means that the children finally succeed in growing up into first-class snobs, immortal gods! knowing nothing themselves that is of value, having no training, either moral or intellectual, and seeing no examples in their elders to follow, thus growing sophisticated and thoroughly spoiled — much as we have been, although in less degree, sophisticated and spoiled, so that we have to unlearn every day almost what we had been taught to consider as things of knowledge.
I suppose that this idea of allowing a child to grow "naturally," is, in a sense, a reaction from the rigid and false instructional and educational systems of our Occidental forebears; but even so, its results are worse, if anything, than are the results that happened to us. It is better to educate, even though imperfectly — it is better to instruct, even though imperfectly — than to allow a child to grow up to think that both education and instruction are the nonsense of the old fogies, its parents, and that the child itself is so perfect a creation of nature that, in its own mind, it becomes a little tin god on wheels. This so-called natural education is just plain bunk, and contains in itself all the seeds of immorality and crime!
A gloomy picture, is it not? And yet it is a picture of facts as they are. I am speaking with deliberation and emphasis today, because as a theosophist I want the ideas which I am trying to express to sink into your minds. I myself have experienced the value of these theosophical teachings, and know how good and helpful they are. Your children must be instructed: more, they must be educated. They must not merely be taught what we adults think we know, that is, apparently logical and natural answers to the questions which nature puts to us; but they must also be educated, "brought out," that is to say the inner faculties within the child brought out into the expression of their native powers.
It is indeed a problem, and I suppose that no one knows it better than the thinking and conscientious fathers and mothers themselves. They question themselves seriously today: Where shall I send my boy to school? Where shall I send my girl to school? Well, you know what some of these schools are like. Making all allowances for the splendid men and women in the schools who are doing their best under what are very frequently most embarrassing and unfavorable circumstances, our schools are not at all what they ought to be.
It was with this situation in mind in part that Katherine Tingley, some thirty years ago, founded the Raja-Yoga system of education, which system not only teaches, that is to say, instructs, the child intellectually, as the word goes, but tries to bring out the child's own inner faculties, in other words, to educate it — the meaning of which is to bring out what is within. This combination of objectives is the ideal, this is the aim, that we strive to move towards.
I think that no true theosophical teacher will ever tell you we have attained perfect results, for, in the first place, there is always growth. And mind you, it is not always those who talk most glibly about Raja-Yoga who are the best exemplars of it. Words come easily to thoughtless lips; but the Raja-Yoga system of education is above everything else, a life. It is, in fact, the ethical side, the philosophical side, the religious side, and the scientific side, of theosophy, all put into practice as far as both teachers and students can do so. It is not everyone who howls: "Lord, Lord," who sees the Divine, nor is it everyone who claims to be a Raja-Yoga pupil who is worthy of the title, unless he or she shows it in the life.
This in no sense means that our Raja-Yoga pupils or graduates are 'saints' or exemplars of priggish self-satisfaction. But it does mean that they have had every opportunity to become worthy of the splendid system under which they were brought up, and according to which they were taught.
This may seem to you perhaps like preaching, but even if so, it is exceedingly good preaching. It is true. It is the man or woman, who lives what he believes to be true and right and honorable and impersonal, who is a true Raja-Yoga student. Nor is one of the sublimest virtues of human nature absent in the Raja-Yoga training: I mean gratitude. On the contrary, there are no people so grateful, heart-grateful and mind-grateful, as are they who have understood what the Raja-Yoga education and training mean. This training begins even with the little ones, and therefore is it such sheer delight to listen to what they say, or to study the questions that they ask, because these sayings and questions so beautifully exemplify the coming into being of the innate faculties of the little ones.
Yes, some of the sayings of the little ones — quaint, humorous, occasionally irresistibly funny — sometimes show the breadth and profundity even of the child's mind, in other words show that Something back of the outward seeming, behind, as it were, the developing mind of the little one, which is striving to express itself as it grows.
A child's mind is not as some former philosophers in our European countries have tried to set it forth to be: a tabula rasa, or blank tablet, on which the child's growing life experience will inscribe its character as it grows. It seems to me that the simplest examination of your own selves, and of the little ones around you, easily will teach you differently. Each child has its own character which comes to it with its birth, through birth. It brings itself into life; it brings therefore its own character; and its character is not made nor created; not even may we say that its character is fully shaped or formed by the experience of the ensuing life. Instead of being a tabula rasa or blank tablet, on which its life-experiences will write legends of the weal and of the woe that it has to undergo, the child's inner constitution or mind, in other words the child itself, brings with it into earth-life vast treasuries of experience out of the past of all times: good, bad, and indifferent; and these, in their aggregate, and in the effect that they have had upon the developing soul, are what we call character.
Now even our wonderful Raja-Yoga education cannot achieve miracles. We do not believe in miracles. You "cannot make a silk purse" — you know the old proverb! If the child brings with it a character which is cold and callous, calculating and selfish, the utmost that even divinity, a school conducted by the very gods themselves, could do to such a child under such circumstances would be to ameliorate its unfortunate mental attributes and to soften the circumstances in order to help it in the life to come.
So it is not everyone who cries: "Raja-Yoga, I am a Raja-Yoga!" who has learned anything at all about it. Words come easily to the lips of the thoughtless. We know that, and we do not claim to have a school of miracles here. Our own great teacher, Katherine Tingley, has told us that in one very important aspect of the system, it is a school of prevention, not however, meaning by that phrase that our Raja-Yoga teachers can prevent everything. That would be idiotic, and we are not idiots. But it is indeed a school in which, if there is the slightest chance for amendment, for amelioration, for moral and impersonal growth, the little ones here can have that chance, and under our system grow and bloom and blossom, much as the flowers open their petals to the rays of the golden sun; but we cannot achieve miracles, and no one knows it better than our Raja-Yoga teachers themselves, and our real Raja-Yoga pupils.
Therefore, our wonderful Raja-Yoga system of education, is, as much as anything else, not a school of prevention alone, but a school in which the child is studied in order that its growing faculties may manifest themselves in the easiest and ultimately the best way. Its mind is eagerly sought out and analyzed under the often perplexing veils of personality by our Raja-Yoga teachers, and impersonally and kindly — but, heaven forbid! not by psychoanalysis or anything of that kind — but analyzed wisely, its tendencies noted, its character studied for its own benefit, and every possible chance given to it to develop — not "naturally," as this word is so abominably misused, but spiritually, morally, intellectually, in order to bring out the best that is in it, its own soul, which is the real man to be, or the real woman to be.
And if we do not always succeed, the fault is not in the system nor in our splendid and most unusually conscientious Raja-Yoga teachers. We have indeed had wonderful success. The system has proved itself a marvelous success as a system; and this is very largely due to the self-denying, wonderful teachers that we have here, most of them brought up from childhood under Katherine Tingley's own direction: taught by her, not so much in words, not so much in books, not so much in mere mental lessons, not so much by stimulating the mere mental apparatus of an educational system for which a great deal is claimed. Not so.
You can find such methods practically anywhere more or less; and in comparison with the principles and ideals of the Raja-Yoga system, the former do not amount to a snap of the fingers. The system, on the other hand, aims to teach the child what it is, and what the nature of things in themselves is: the children are taught where to look in order to find the things of great value in life, while the teachers are taught how to teach the children, how to evolve forth the often splendid faculties of the child's mind, which ordinary systems of instruction cannot reach.
There is the whole secret in a few words. No wonder theosophists may briefly call it the Royal Road. It is the highway, the beginning of the highway, which leads ultimately to the immortal gods. When the child is taught to know itself, it is thereby taught to know its inseparable relations with spiritual nature, and its oneness with all that is, and therefrom flows the sense of individual responsibility, not only to the Self, but to all other selves; and the resultant of all this is that if the child has been properly taught, its spiritual and moral instincts begin to work of themselves almost automatically.
On last Sunday I made the suggestion to the fathers and mothers then here, that if they could not answer the questions of their little children, to tell them a fairy tale. Now, I mean that. The idea is part of the system of the Raja-Yoga educational work here. It does not, however, mean any kind of a fairy tale that you can find in a book purchased for a price in the shops. Many of such fairy-tales are not good, and some have even an immoral influence on the impressionable and plastic minds of children; and this latter kind of tales are not true fairy-tales at all. They are merely imaginary tales, written by moderns who do not know the secrets of Nature, who have not been taught, as the originators of the splendid archaic fairy tales were taught, by seers and sages.
But I mean by fairy tales, those splendid old myths and legends which have stood the test of time, and which contain, all of them, a great spiritual, ethical, and scientific truth. You know the old nursery rhyme about the old woman who lived in a shoe, and had so many children she didn't know what to do? It sounds just like doggerel, doesn't it? Well, that is a native English fairy tale, and it contains a great truth, like many others of the folklore fairy tales. Therefore is it a true fairy tale.
Who is this Mother who lived in a shoe? What is the shoe? Who are the many children? Mother Nature, friends, living in the universe around us, which is called a shoe in this tale because it is the outward vehicle in which Mother Nature works; just so does the shoe protect the foot and clothe it and carry the body along to other scenes and views. This is evolution expressed under the metaphor of a shoe. Do you know that an ancient name for body was "bearer," or "carrier" or "vehicle"? In other legends of this type the word 'shoe' is not used, but the carrier or bearer or body is spoken of as a garment or a veil or a mist, or something like that; but the idea is essentially the same.
You could not readily tell a child in philosophical and religious terminology, with words an inch or two long, the great truths of nature. Its mind has not been sophisticated enough to misunderstand nature after that manner. It would not understand the language you are talking to it. But you can teach it precisely the same truths of nature by figures of speech, by metaphors, by tales, and the things thus taught will remain in the mind.
The child will think about them, it will remember them, it will remember the doggerel; but something of far greater value than this remains: its consciousness has been awakened by the intuitive working of the spiritual purpose inside the meaning of these metaphors, tales, stories, etc., if they are indeed true fairy tales.
You don't have to explain to a child the ethical meaning of a fairy tale, in fact it would be unwise to attempt to do so, unless it asked you so to do. Then you would have to do the best you could. Meanwhile, don't bewilder it. Allow it to think for itself first, and to develop the wish or desire for a larger understanding. Overtaxing or bewildering a child's mind with the patter and lingo of grownups, that grownups themselves don't understand, is not Raja-Yoga education or instruction.
Enable the child to think for itself, and to see the truth for itself. Bring out the powers within the child. Develop the growing individuality of the child, lead it forth into manifestation: this is the Raja-Yoga meaning of education. You should no more try to think for your child than you should try to eat for it or to walk for it. On the other hand, be an example of conduct for your child, guard your conduct and your words very carefully when in the presence of your children, for their eyes are very clear-sighted, and they are logically intuitive, and when they see father or mother doing things which the child is forbidden to do, not only does there grow disrespect for the parents, but something more serious than this, a sense of disrespect for the intrinsic beauty of moral teaching.
When a child sees its father and mother breaking laws — not merely the laws of nature, but also the laws of the state — it learns to have a perfectly unlovely respect for law and order, and for constituted authority! When it sees its mother or its father perhaps cheat the street-railway company out of a nickel, which is an instance that I personally have seen, what a lesson is thereby instilled into the child's mind! Do such parents desire their child to grow up to be a professional thief or a criminal of some other type?
The life and duty of a teacher make his profession a strenuous one, if he is at all sincere, but nevertheless it is a beautiful life; and I have positive pity for the man or woman who has no respect for a little child. They know every bit as much as we do in their own ways, and within their own sphere, although they cannot express it as adults think they can express what they know; and if you think that you know more than your children do, then answer their questions and answer them honestly. Be honest with yourselves! Face yourselves for once in your life in the presence of your little children!
I might say that in reading to you some of these delightful questions and sayings of the children, in which their wonderful elementary wisdom is shown, I have chosen names different from the real names that the real children bear, for the simple reason that I see sometimes here in our Temple the faces of parents of our little children here, and I do not know whether I ought to give the real names or not. I cannot see any harm in doing so, but it struck me it might not be the right thing to do, for some parents might not care to have their children's names thus mentioned in public. So I have changed the names. For my own part, if I were a married man and had a child, or children, I would be delighted to have somebody talk about their questions and their childlike sayings.
On the street of a certain Pennsylvania town, some years ago, the following conversation, short but truly pitiful, between a mother and her little son, aged four, was overheard: Son: "Mother, what would you do if something should happen to Daddy?" Mother (slight hesitation and then firmly): "I would cry, and cry, and cry, and cry!" Later mother and father will wonder why son is such a cry-baby.
That child was not properly answered. The mother spoke from her own personality, and doubtless she thought she spoke from her heart. She was so vain she wanted even her little son to understand that when Daddy died she was going to be terribly hurt. But how on earth does that personal feeling of the mother's vanity answer the child's questions? How does it help the child? On the contrary, it teaches it to look upon its personality as something of importance and to cry at the first opportunity when that personality is denied something that it wants. I ask you plainly: what kind of a mother-thought was that which prompted such an answer? I, the big I!
Two or three of our Raja-Yoga teachers here have supplied me with some more of the delightful questions and sayings of some of our little children. I will quote them during the course of my talk this afternoon.
The little boys in one of the groups were once talking about what happened to all one's possessions when one died. They were told that people, before they died, made a will and said just what they wanted done with their possessions when they passed away. One boy said: "But what happens if a man dies unwillingly?" — meaning without having written a will.
How would you answer that? You know what is done, but how would you answer such a simple question as that. Do you think that this question of the child has no meaning beyond its word-sense? I think it has a great deal more. That child has begun to think.
Here is another question: "If caterpillars and spiders and bugs have many legs, why has a man only two legs like a bird? Why have fishes and oysters no legs at all?" Could you answer that question? Never mind about any scientific theory that you may have heard of. Just remember that it is only a theory. Can you give a truthful or a natural answer to that question: can you satisfy yourself why you have two legs, and fishes and oysters have none, and caterpillars and bugs have many? I do not think that you can.
But you must answer your child's question with something, and I think that I would answer that child as follows, at least as a starter; and I know very, very well that if my answer is not satisfactory, there will be a quick come-back. "We don't need so many legs, dear. We just grew in that way." Now at least that is not untruthful, and it is responsive as far as it goes, and the child will wonder over this fact of "growing in that way," and as itself grows older, and learns about the scientific theories of its own day, its mind will have attained a certain independence of judgment, because the germ of thought on this very subject has already been planted and therein lies the beginning of the training in accurate thinking.
Another question: "So many flowers have lovely perfumes, Miss X. Why don't we smell nice, like the flowers?" Well, why not? Do you think that there is anything foolish about that question? I do not; I think it is a very natural question. As a matter of fact, we do smell, and I think that I would have answered that child just about in this way: "Some people do and some do not smell nice. The dogs can tell the difference, for they have a highly developed sense of smell."
Now, that answer is at least a true answer. It would not satisfy you perhaps, and it won't fully satisfy the child. But at any rate, I have not snubbed its mind; I have not rebuffed it or thrown it back upon itself, and made it feel: "Oh, what a fool I was to ask Daddy such a question. I am not going to do it next time."
Bring out the developing soul of the child; help it. That is what education is, as contrasted with instruction, which latter only too often means only teaching it a lot of folderol, that, when the child grows up, will be forgotten. There is, of course, no harm in properly teaching a child some of the prevailing theories of the day. There is a certain amount of real value in mental training; but I tell you, as a teacher by profession, that I believe that I know that there is more value in teaching a child how to think than what to think.
Human egoism! If you try to put into a child's mind what you think it ought to think, in the first place you will find that it is useless, and in the second place you are wasting time, and worst of all, you are distorting that child's mind, particularly if it be impressionable, as almost all children are.
Now, what are the best ways of teaching a child how to think, and living out or bringing out what is within itself? You say: what is the use of dead-languages? They are of no practical value. They do not make money for you, they do not enable a child to earn its own living, to pile up a big bank account. How do you know? I say that it is much more likely that a child whose mind has been accurately trained by studying dead languages — precisely because they are impractical, to use the modern expression — will be more likely to succeed in life in the so-called practical affairs, because its mind has been trained, than would a child whose mind has received no such training in thought and in discipline. Such training teaches the mind to be accurate in its thinking, to be close in its observations, to make necessary logical deductions; and hence whatever it is, these dead languages, mathematics, or anything else, are the valuable things for a child to study, because they train that child to think and to think carefully.
Similarly, mathematics for the same reason precisely calls for accurate and impersonal thinking. Then the scientific studies: tell your child that the things that you are now teaching it in the various sciences are not fully truth, that they may change tomorrow; but that they are the highest knowledge of nature that has as yet been attained. Outside of anything else this will lead your child to accept your frankness, and therefore it will make it also frank and honest, which is a great advantage in the so-called struggle of life.
Do you not think that all this is true? Do you think that our modern scientists are encyclopedias of ascertained truths of being, and that nothing more can be learned than what they know, and that therefore their word or theories at any one time are irrevocable and absolute truth? What a pitiful thing it is if there is nothing more to know in the universe, and to suppose that our scientists know everything that there is, and that they are greater than the Great Spirit, because they comprehend it all, and therefore even comprehend or enclose, mentally speaking, the Great Spirit?
Yes, I think that some people have very nice odors, and we feel it in more than one way: their very presence is a benediction. Even the natural animal odor of the human body in some cases is not by any means unpleasant; and little children are very susceptible to these things in their unspoiled sense apparatus and instinct. Contrariwise, the animal odor of some other people is not at all pleasant.
Here is a question: "Why do some flowers go to sleep at night, and others stay awake?" Can you answer that? Why not remind your children of the sunflower which turns its face to the sun in the morning and which follows the sun across the sky by turning on its stem, and faces the sun to the westward in the evening? Can you understand that? The scientists cannot, although they have theories about it; but at least you can tell your child some fairy tale with application to this point, and teach it to think, and perhaps when it grows older it may discover why some flowers sleep at night and some stay awake. At any rate, we know it has to do with the sun, and your fairy tale can deal with the sunbeams.
I am sorry for the mothers and fathers, the mothers in particular. If they cannot answer the questions their children ask, in the name of the immortal gods, who will answer them? Therefore I say again if you cannot answer the questions, which is most likely the case, tell them one of the noble old fairy tales, and do not try to overload the child's mind by giving labored and theoretic explanations according to your own view. Let the child exercise its own faculties of imagination and intuition. There is never any harm in telling the child that there is a very beautiful truth at the bottom of the fairy tale which it ought to discover for itself, and if the child says to you: Have you discovered it? you can say: I think so; and then tell the child what your explanation is. Here again the child will respect you for your frankness, and in its turn will become frank, because it will look upon frankness as a beautiful thing.
Fire its imagination with these ancient truths, and you may have a boy or a girl who will grow up to see visions of splendor and dream dreams of reality. Its native faculties will have been exercised. You cannot make a silk purse — you know the rest. But you can give to your child every possible chance; and whether it be a "sow's ear," or whether it be a baby Jesus, matters not so much, as far as the principles which we are discussing are concerned. In the name of truth, I say, give the little child its chance to think for itself.
Another question: "Why does a stork stand on one leg?" That question was asked of me, and I took about half a minute to think, and then someone came to the rescue — another boy, and he said: "Stupid question! Why, if it raised its leg, it would fall down. That is why it stands on one leg." Now that is funny, it is really humorous; but, do you know, my sympathy was with the boy who asked the first question. Why indeed does the stork stand on one leg? No scientist can answer that question, although he may theorize about it just as you and I can. But my sympathy was with the first boy, because he was not satisfied with the answer of his little fellow. He was thoughtful; he pondered and looked at the ground, as a child will. As for me, I did not say a word. I did not want to spoil the atmosphere of the situation. I knew that if I spoke or interfered, the growing thought in that little boy's mind might be hurt; and I left it as it was. I am glad I did so.
Another question: "Why is it that children are always naughty and grownups are always good; because grownups were children once?" that is a tough question. It really is. I think that if I had been asked that question, I would have said: "Well, dear, children are not always naughty, nor are all children naughty; and grownups are not always good, nor are they all good. There are good children and naughty children; and there are grownups who are good and grownups who are bad." I think that I should have said no more.
Here are two delightful little things. The children were at Sunday dinner, and they began to talk about the various things they had to eat. Lettuce, they knew, grew out of the ground, but how did crackers grow? This started a long conversation with the teacher about cooking. Suddenly Richard asked, apparently quite irrelevantly: "Did Mother Nature make my daddy?" "Yes, indeed," answered the teacher. "Then once upon a time he must have been a baby." "Yes." "Then," said Richard, "when all the world was full of babies, and there were no grownups, Santa Claus and Mother Nature must have done all the cooking!"
I wish that I knew enough to tell the little child, indeed to tell one of my grownup colleagues, just how and why lettuce grows. I can work out an answer which is perfectly satisfactory to me, but I don't think I could work out an answer that would be satisfactory to another grownup. Pause a moment over that still greater question: "Why does lettuce grow?"
But you can answer these questions, at least satisfactorily to yourself, if you study theosophy, which is not of human origin, which has not been imagined by anybody, which is not just a collection of wise sayings from the various philosophies and religions of the world; but is, to those who have studied it, proved to be the formulation in modern language of the wisdom of the gods transmitted to us by the greatest, the most titanic, spiritual visioners and intellectuals that the world has ever known.
You think that you have not those faculties of understanding and imagination in your constitution, perhaps, dormant or active as the case may be, which will enable you to see true answers to any questions? I wonder if you really think that. I do not believe it. If a man can think, where will you set the limits to the possibility of growth of that faculty of thinking? Do you dare to say that it can never be greater than it is now, and that greater men than we have never lived in the past, or will never live in the future? Or did not live in the great and silent past of the earth? And how dare any thoughtful human being say that there are in the boundless spaces of the boundless universe no beings greater than we poor humans on this little dust speck we call earth? Pray, pray think about these things.
One of the boys asked his teacher the other day why caterpillars always "tangle up" when they walk. You know how some caterpillars go, those caterpillars who progress by looping as they move. Now, can you answer that question? It is a very simple question. Can you answer it? Can you say why some caterpillars progress by looping as they go? All caterpillars do not, but some do. Simply because they are built in that way. They have, as a rule, three pairs of feet on the forepart of their long body, and what are called prolegs or fleshy excrescences on the nether end, and sometimes in the middle. The caterpillars who loop as they go do so because that is the only way they can go. They cannot go as other caterpillars go; they cannot run as a spider will, but they have to go in that way: they are not strong enough to dig their three pairs of forefeet into the ground, or into the bark of a twig, and pull themselves; so nature teaches them to make these loops of their body, and that is why they "tangle up" when they walk. Now surely you will know how to explain that to a child.
Now, the following are also pretty sayings — and as the time is passing rapidly, I shall not read many of these that I have collected. Mary (about four years old) seeing an alligator lizard for the first time, described it to her teacher as a "lizard that was so thick that there was no thinness about it."
One child, when rehearsals for A Midsummer Night's Dream began, asked her teacher if they were rehearsing that play "Do as you like."
Another child (three years old) when spoken to about a button that was unfastened, looked up at her teacher and said, very saucily: "You did it." When told she must not speak like that, a naughty twinkle came into her eyes. She glanced at the button, and then assuming a very demure expression, she said: "This button is undone. I don't know who did it. It wasn't my teacher." Another time she said: "I can't fasten this button, Miss X, it keeps crawling out."
Mary had watched with great interest when the children's temperatures were taken during a sick spell. She had heard the teachers warn a little girl who was inclined to bite the thermometer that it would make her dreadfully sick if she should do it. One day, she brought her doll and with the greatest concern said: "My dolly's very sick, she's swallowed her temperature."
Teacher: "What is the capital of the United States?" One little girl shouted: "George Washington, D.C."
Louise, trying to repeat a poem of which one line was: "Where the gray trouts lie," was heard to say: "Where the gray trousers lie." Another time, trying to sing: "Love divine through all things flowing," she sang: "Lovely vine, through all things flowing."
One little girl was inclined to eat too fast, but one day she folded her hands very firmly and looking at them, as though talking to a real person, she said: "No, tant take more bread till you's told." Now that is a pretty little example in self-control.
Here is something about you, friends: Annie was much interested in knowing why public meetings were now given in the Temple of Peace. We explained that Katherine Tingley was trying to teach the same lessons to the public that she teaches to Raja-Yogas. She looked up quickly and said: "That's just it. There are many things which are not true that people believe, just because someone has told them, and we are trying to get it out of them, aren't we? Madame Tingley doesn't want people to grow up knowing stupid things, does she?"
That is what you might call ad hominem, an argument directed to the man.
To our children brought up here in the Raja-Yoga School, death has no horror. On the morning after Mrs. A---- R---- passed away, and the children were told, some little girls who had been brought up at home to think of death as a sad thing, put on long faces; but Dorothy, who thought of death as going to Fairyland, clapped her hands, and with a face lighted with joy, exclaimed: "Oh good! Now she will rest and when she comes back to us, she will be all well and won't suffer any more, will she?"
What a beautiful thing a child's mind is! And on the other hand, how our children's minds are stultified and how their hearts are hurt by the old terrible atmosphere of the old home-religion that enshrouded some of the most natural and beautiful things in the world!
Tommy came back from the beach with a dripping bathing suit over his arm, and his hair all wet. "Well, Tommy," said his mother, "how was it the waves didn't swallow you up today?" "Because I swallowed them," he promptly replied. (Tommy is five years old.)
One day Tommy asked: "Have caramels (which he pronounces carrmulls) anything to do with Karma?" "Sometimes," said his teacher. Tommy stood thinking for a moment, and then said: "Don't you think they are very good karma?"
Here is a pretty thing: Tommy had been for an outing with his mother and daddy. The daddy had to leave them for a little while, and while he was away they happened to see a flock of wild turkeys. When Daddy came back, Mother said: "Tommy, aren't you going to tell Daddy what we saw?" "Oh yes!" said Tommy, and then very impressively: "Daddy, we saw a flock of Thanksgiving!"
Before parting this afternoon, I recall to your minds, if you please, what I mentioned in the first part of our talk this afternoon about fairy tales as being true and false. Those fairy tales are true which imbody some great natural fact, some great element of the universe, one of the great operations of universal being, and these great natural facts, at least some of them, which have been given to ancient humankind by the seers and sages, are imbodied in two kinds of treasuries of natural lore, so to say.
One is the native folklore, varying in different countries according to different peoples, but in very large degree everywhere containing the same elements of truth. The other is a body of great and wonderful legends and stories which have been brought westwards to the Occident from the motherland of religions and sciences, archaic India; and to show how these wonderful stories that were put by great minds into the form of myth and legend, and therefore form a part of the mythology of various peoples, passed from mind to mind and from age to age, and from people to people, I took the trouble this morning to investigate one single instance and to draw up the results of my investigation in simple form.
In ancient India there existed a collection of delightful fables and tales inculcating high moral virtues and philosophic and religious truths, under the form of the so-called Beast Fable. Kipling's Jungle Book contains stories copied after the style and matter of some of these tales which still exist in the Sanskrit literature, such as the Panchatantra and the Katha-Sarit-Sagara.
Centuries ago, by command of the Persian Sassanian king, Khosru Anushirwan, in 531-579 of the Christian era, a translation from the archaic Hindu collection was made into Pehlevi, the literary language of Persia.
From this Pehlevi version were made two notable translations: one into Syriac, about 570 AD, and one into Arabic about 760. These two versions were called respectively, the Syrian, "The Fables of Kalilag and Danmag," from the names of two jackals Krataka and Damanaka who figure prominently in the original Sanskrit; and the Arabic Kalilah and Dimnah or "The Fables of Pilpay."
From this Arabic version came in turn one into later Syrian dating from the tenth or eleventh century, one into Greek about 1080, one back into Persian dating from about 1230, one into Hebrew dating from about 1240, and one into old Spanish dating from about 1250.
From the Hebrew translation came the version into Latin, made by John of Capua, dating from about 1270 and called Directorium Humanae Vitae, or "Directory of Human Life."
From this Latin version came the German translation, first printed about 1481 at the instance of Duke Eberhard im Bart, and called in old German, Das buch der byspel der alten wysen, or, in modern German, Das Buch der Beispiele der alten Weisen — "The Book of the Examples of the Ancient Sages."
From the Latin version of John of Capua also came the English version of Sir Thomas North, 1570. La Fontaine, the great French Fabulist, in the second edition of his Fables, 1678, confesses his indebtedness to Pilpay, the "Indian Sage," and elsewhere says:
"Fables, in sooth, are not what they appear:
Our moralists are mice, and such small deer.
We yawn at sermons, but we gladly turn
To moral tales, and so amused we learn."
And Dr. Johnson, quaint old Englishman, in his Life of Gay, says:
"A fable or apologue seems to be, in its genuine state, a narrative in which beings irrational, and sometimes inanimate, are, for the purpose of moral instruction, feigned to act and speak with human interests and passions."
And how truly the child understands all this, with his unsophisticated, unspoiled, mind and heart.
There is one point to which attention should certainly be called before I conclude my lecture this afternoon. It is this: that the brief summary of the translation or transmission of the elements of the Beast Fable as above outlined, from archaic India to modern European countries, shows how nearly to heart, sober and serious-minded men took these fairy tales, legends, myths, and what-not, their minds being less sophisticated than ours, however sunken they may or may not have been in superstition, religious and other; so the great value and intrinsic beauty of these old moralistic tales, while they understood very little of the esoteric meaning behind them, and probably in fact understood very little at all of them, nevertheless the beautiful appeal these stories made to their minds, as well as to their hearts, is significant enough. We are so sophisticated in our ultra-modern egoisms that we fail to see beauty where beauty lies, and run after skeletons clad in velvet and paint!
In concluding, friends, Katherine Tingley describes her system as follows:
"The truest and fairest thing of all as regards education is to attract the mind of the pupil to the fact that the immortal self is ever seeking to bring the whole being into a state of perfection. The real secret of the Raja-Yoga system is rather to evolve the child's character than to overtax the child's mind; it is to bring out rather than to bring to the faculties of the child. The grander part is from within."
Vol 1, No 3