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Our Relation to Children from an Occult Point of View

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From the theosophical standpoint the subject of our relation to children is an exceedingly important and practical one. If we realize the purpose for which the ego descends into incarnation, and if we know to how great an extent its attainment of that purpose depends upon the training given to its various vehicles during their childhood and growth, we cannot but feel that a tremendous responsibility attaches to all who are in any way connected with children, whether as parents, elder relatives, or teachers. It is well, therefore, that we should consider what hints Theosophy can give us as to the way in which we can best discharge this responsibility.

The Duty of Parents

The absolute nature of the duty of parents and teachers towards children must first be recognized. It cannot be too strongly or too repeatedly insisted upon that parentage is an exceedingly heavy responsibility of a religious nature, however lightly and thoughtlessly it may often be undertaken. Those who bring a child into the world make themselves directly responsible to the law of karma for the opportunities of evolution which they ought to give to that ego, and heavy indeed will be their penalty if by their carelessness or selfishness they put hindrances in his path, or fail to render him all the help and guidance which he has a right to expect from them. Yet how often the modern parent entirely ignores this obvious responsibility; how often a child is to him nothing but a cause of fatuous vanity or an object of thoughtless neglect!

If we want to understand our duty towards the child we must first consider how he came to be what he is; we must trace him back in thought to his previous incarnation. Whatever may have been his outward circumstances at that time, he had a definite disposition of his own – a character containing various more or less developed qualities, some good and some bad.

In due course of time that life of his came to an end; but whether that end came slowly by disease or old age, or swiftly by some accident or violence, its advent made no sudden change of any sort in his character. A curious delusion seems to prevail in many quarters that the mere fact of death at once turns a demon into a saint and that, whatever a man’s life may have been, the moment he dies he becomes practically an angel of goodness. No idea could possibly be further from the truth, as those whose work lies in trying to help the departed know full well. The casting off of a man’s physical body no more alters his disposition than does the casting off of his overcoat; he is precisely the same man the day after his death as he was the day before, with the same vices and the same virtues.

True, now that he is functioning only in the astral world he has not the same opportunities of displaying them; but though they may manifest themselves in the astral life in a different manner, they are nonetheless still there, and the conditions and duration of that life are their during physical life has worn itself out – until the astral body which he has made for himself, disintegrates; for only then can he leave it for the higher and more peaceful realm of the heaven-world [devachan Ed.]. But though those particular passions are for the time worn out and done with for him, the germs of the qualities in him which made it possible for them to exist in his nature are still there. They are latent and ineffective, certainly, because desire of that type requires astral matter for its manifestation: they are what Madame Blavatsky once called ‘privations of matter,’ but they are quite ready to come into renewed activity, if stimulated, when the man again finds himself under conditions where they can act.

An analogy may perhaps, if not pushed too far, be of use in helping us to grasp this idea. If a small bell be made to ring continuously in an air-tight vessel, and the air be then gradually withdrawn, the sound will grow fainter and fainter, until it becomes inaudible. The bell is still ringing as vigorously as ever, yet its vibration is no longer manifest to our ears, because the medium by means of which alone it can produce any effect upon them is absent. Admit the air to the vessel, and immediately you hear the sound of the bell once more just as before.

Similarly, there are certain qualities in man’s nature which need astral matter for their manifestation, just as [physical – Ed.] sound needs either air or some denser matter for its vehicle; and when, in the process of his withdrawal into himself after what we call death, he leaves the astral world for the mental, those qualities can no longer find expression, and must therefore perforce remain latent. But when, centuries later, on his downward course into reincarnation he re-enters the astral realm, these qualities which have remained latent for so long manifest themselves once more, and become the tendencies of the next personality.

In the same way there are qualities of the mind which need for their expression the matter of the lower mental levels; and when, after his long rest in the heaven-world, the consciousness of the man withdraws into the true ego upon the higher mental levels, these qualities also pass into latency.

But when the ego is about to reincarnate, he has to reverse this process of withdrawal – to pass downward through the very same worlds through which he came on his upward journey. When the time of his outflow comes, he puts himself down first on to the lower levels of his own world, and seeks to express himself there, as far as is possible in that less perfect and less plastic matter. In order that he may so express himself and function in that world, he must clothe himself in its matter.

Thus the ego aggregates around himself matter of the lower mental levels – the matter which will afterward become his mind-body. But this matter is not selected at random; out of all the varied and inexhaustible store around him he attracts to himself just such a combination as is perfectly fitted to give expression to his latent mental qualities. In precisely the same way, when he makes the further descent to the astral world, the matter of that world which is by natural law attracted to him to serve as his vehicle is exactly that which will give expression to the desires which were his at the conclusion of his last astral life. In point of fact, he resumes his life in each world just where he left it last time.

His qualities are not as yet in any way in action; they are simply the germs of qualities, and for the moment their only influence is to secure for themselves a possible field of manifestation by providing suitable matter for their expression in the various vehicles of the child. Whether they develop once more in this life into the same definite tendencies as in the last one, will depend largely upon the encouragement or otherwise given to them by the surroundings of the child during his early years. Any one of them, good or bad, may be readily stimulated into activity by encouragement, or, on the other hand, may be starved out for lack of that encouragement. If stimulated, it becomes a more powerful factor in the man’s life this time than it was in his previous existence; if starved out, it remains merely as an unfructified germ, which presently atrophies and dies out, and does not make its appearance in the succeeding incarnation at all.

This, then, is the condition of the child when first he comes under his parents’ care. He cannot be said to have as yet a definite mind body or a definite astral body, but he has around and within him the matter out of which these are to be built.

He possesses tendencies of all sorts, some of them good and some of them evil, and it is in accordance with the development of these tendencies that this building will be regulated. And this development in turn depends almost entirely upon the influences brought to bear upon him from outside during the first few years of his existence. During these years the ego has as yet but little hold over his vehicles, and he looks to the parents to help him to obtain a firmer grasp, and to provide him with suitable conditions; hence their responsibility.

The Plasticity of Childhood

It is impossible to exaggerate the plasticity of these unformed vehicles. We know that the physical body of a child, if only its training be begun at a sufficiently early age, may be modified to a considerable extent. An acrobat, for example, will take a boy of five or six years old, whose bones and muscles are not yet as hardened and firmly set as ours are, and will gradually accustom his limbs and body to take readily and with comfort all sorts of positions which would be absolutely impossible for most of us now, even with any amount of training. Yet our own bodies at the same age differed in no essential respect from that boy’s, and if they had been put through the same exercises they would have become as supple and elastic as his.

If the physical body of a child is thus plastic and readily impressible, his astral and mental vehicles are far more so. They thrill in response to every vibration which they encounter, and are eagerly receptive with regard to all influences, whether good or evil, which emanate from those around them. They resemble the physical body also in this other characteristic – that though in early youth they are so susceptible and so easily molded, they soon set and stiffen and acquire definite habits which, when once firmly established, can be altered only with great difficulty.

When we realize this, we see at once the extreme importance of the surroundings in which a child passes his earliest years, and the heavy responsibility which rests upon every parent to see that the conditions of the child’s development are as good as they can be made. Moment by moment the germs of good or evil quality brought over from the last birth are awakening into activity; moment by moment are being built up those vehicles which will condition the whole of his afterlife; and it rests with us to awaken the germ of good, to starve out the germ of evil. To a far larger extent than is ever realized by even the fondest parents, the child’s future is under their control.

Think of all the friends whom you know so well, and try to imagine what splendid specimens of humanity they would be if all their good qualities were enorm­ously intensified, and all the less estimable features absolutely weeded out of their characters.

That is the result which it is in your power to produce in your child, if you do your full duty by him; such a specimen of humanity you may make him if you will but take the trouble.

The Influence of Parents

“But how?” you will say; “by precept? by education?”

Yes, truly, much may be done in that way when the time comes; but another and far greater power than that is in your hands – a power which you may begin to wield from the very moment of the child’s birth, and even before that; and that is the power of the influence of your own life.

To some extent this is recognized, for most civilized people are careful of their words and actions in the presence of a child, and it would be an unusually depraved parent who would allow his children to hear him use violent language, or to see him give way to a fit of passion; but what a man does not realize is that if he wishes to avoid doing the most serious harm to his little ones, he must learn to control not only his words and deeds, but also his thoughts. It is true that you cannot immediately see the pernicious effect of your evil thought or desire upon the mind of your child, but none the less it is there, and it is more real and more terrible, more insidious and more far-reaching than the harm which is obvious to the physical eye.

If a parent allows himself to cherish feelings of anger or jealousy, of envy or avarice, of selfishness or pride, even though he may never give them outward expression, the waves of emotion which he thereby causes in his own desire-body are assuredly acting all the while upon the plastic astral body of his child, tuning its undulations to the same key, awakening into activity any germs of those sins that may have been brought over from his past life, and setting up in him also the same set of evil habits, which when they have once become definitely formed will be exceedingly difficult to correct. And this is exactly what is being done in the case of most of the children whom we see around us.

The Aura of a Child

As it presents itself to a clairvoyant, the subtle body of a child is often a most beautiful object – pure and bright in its color, free, as yet, from the stains of sensuality and avarice, and from the dull cloud of ill will and selfishness which so frequently darkens all the life of the adult. In it are to be seen lying latent all the germs and tendencies of which we have spoken – some of them evil, some of them good; and thus the possibilities of the child’s future life lie plain before the eye of the watcher.

But how sad it is to see the change which almost invariably comes over that lovely child aura as the years pass on – to note how persistently the evil tendencies are fostered and strengthened by his environment, and how entirely the good ones are neglected! And so incarnation after incarnation is almost wasted, and a life which, with just a little more care anti self-restraint on the part of parents and teachers, might have borne rich fruit of spiritual development, comes practically to nothing, and at its close leaves scarce any harvest to be garnered into the ego of which it has been so one-sided an expression.

When one watches the criminal carelessness with which those who are responsible for the bringing up of children allow them to be perpetually surrounded by all kinds of evil and worldly thoughts, one ceases to marvel at the extraordinary slowness of human evolution, and the almost imperceptible progress which is all that the ego has to show for life after life spent in the toil and struggle of this lower world. Yet with so little more trouble so vast an improvement might be introduced!

It needs no astral vision to see what a change would come over this weary old world if the majority, or even any large proportion of the next generation, were subjected to the process suggested above – if all their evil qualities were steadily repressed and atrophied for lack of nourishment, while all the good in them was assiduously cultivated and developed to the fullest possible extent. One has only to think what they in turn would do for their children, to realize that in two or three generations all the conditions of life would be different, and a true golden age would have begun. For the world at large that age may still be distant, but surely we [or: those – Ed.] who are members of the Theosophical Society ought to be doing our best to hasten its advent: and though the influence of our example may not extend far, it is at least within our power to see that our own children have for their development every advantage which we can give them.

The greatest care, then, ought to be taken as to the surroundings of children, and people who will persist in thinking coarse and unloving thoughts should at least learn that while they are doing so, they are unfit to come near the young, lest they infect them with a contagion more virulent than fever.

Much care is needed, for example, in the selection of the nurses to whom children must sometimes be committed; though it is surely obvious that the less they are left in the hands of servants the better. Nurses often develop the strongest affection for their charges, and treat them as though they were of their own flesh and blood; yet this is not invariably the case, and, even if it be, the servants are almost inevitably less educated and less refined than their mistresses. A child who is left too much to their companionship is therefore constantly subjected to the impact of thought which is likely to be of a less elevated order than even the average level of that of his parents. So that the mother who wishes her child to grow up into a refined and delicate-minded man should entrust him to the care of others as little as possible, and should, above all things, take good heed to her own thoughts while watching over him.

Her great and cardinal rule should be to allow herself to harbor no thought and no desire which she does not wish to see reproduced in her son. Nor is this merely negative conquest over herself sufficient, for, happily, all that has been said about the influence and power of thought is true of good thoughts just as much as of evil ones, and so the parents’ duty has a positive as well as a negative side. Not only must they abstain most carefully from fostering, by unworthy or selfish thoughts of their own, any evil tendency which may exist in their child, but it is also their duty to cultivate in themselves strong, unselfish affection, pure thoughts, high and noble aspirations, in order that all these may react upon their charge, quicken whatever of good is already latent in him, and create a tendency towards any good quality which is as yet unrepresented in his character.

Nor need they have any fear that such effort on their part will fail in its effect, because they are unable to follow its action for lack of astral vision. To the sight of a clairvoyant the whole transaction is obvious; he distinguishes the waves set up in the mind-body of the parent by the inception of the thought, sees it radiating forth, and notes the sympathetic undulations created by its impingement upon the mind-body of the child; and if he renews his observation at intervals during some considerable period, he discerns the gradual but permanent change produced in that mind-body by the constant repetition of the same stimulus to progress. If the parents themselves possess astral sight, it will, no doubt, be of great assistance to them in showing exactly what are the capabilities of their child, and in what directions he most needs development; but if they have not yet that advantage, there need not therefore be the slightest doubt or question about the result, for that must with mathematical certainty follow sustained effort, whether the process of its working be visible to them or not.

With whatever care the parents may surround the child, it cannot but be (if he lives in the world at all) that he will some day encounter influences which will stimulate the germs of evil in his composition. But it makes all the difference in the world in which germs are stimulated first. Usually the evil is thoroughly awakened into activity before the ego has any hold upon the vehicles, and so when he does grasp them he finds that he has to combat a strong predisposition to various evils. When the germs of good are tardily aroused they have to struggle to assert themselves against a set of inharmonious thought-waves which are already firmly established; and often they do not succeed. If, however, by exceeding care before birth and for several years after it the parents are fortunate enough to be able to excite only the good undulations, as the ego gains control he finds it naturally easy to express himself along those lines, and a decided habit is set up in that direction. Then when the evil excitation comes, as come it surely will some time or other, it finds a strong momentum in the direction of good, which it strives in vain to overcome.

The command of the ego over his lower vehicles is often but small, unless he is unusually advanced; but his will is always for good, because his desire in connection with these vehicles is to evolve himself by their means, and such power as he is able to throw into the balance is therefore always on the right side. But with his at present somewhat uncertain grasp upon his astral and mental bodies, he is frequently unable to overcome a strong tendency in the direction of evil when that has been already established. If, however, he finds the strong tendency set up in the opposite direction, he is enabled thereby to get hold of his vehicles more effectually; and after he has done that, the evil suggestion which comes later can only with difficulty succeed in obtaining an entrance. In the one case there is in the personality a taste for evil, a readiness to receive it and indulge in it; in the other there is a strong natural distaste for evil which makes the .work of the ego much easier.

Not only should a parent watch his thoughts, but his moods also. A child is quick to notice and to resent injustice; and if he finds himself scolded at one time for an action which on another occasion caused only amusement, what wonder that his sense of the invariability of Nature’s laws is outraged! Again, when trouble or sorrow comes upon the parent, as in this world it sometimes must, it is surely his duty to try, as far as possible, to prevent his load of grief from weighing upon his children as well as upon himself, at least when in their presence he should make a special effort to be cheerful and resigned, lest the dull, leaden hue of depression should extend itself from his astral body to theirs.

Many a well-meaning parent has an anxious and fussy nature – is always fidgeting about trifles, and worrying his children and himself about matters which are really quite unimportant. If he could but observe clairvoyantly the utter unrest and disquiet which he thus produces in his own astral and mental bodies, and could further see how these disturbed waves introduce quite unnecessary agitation and irritation into the susceptible vehicles of his children, he would no longer be surprised at their occasional outbursts of petulance or nervous excitability, and would realize that in such a case he is often far more to blame than they. What he should contemplate and set before him as his object, is a restful, unruffled spirit – the peace which passeth all understanding – the perfect calm which comes from the confidence that all will at last be well.

Above all things must he strive to become an embodiment of the Divine Love, so that he may fully realize it in his own life, in order that he may flood with it the life of his child. The child must live in an atmosphere of love; he ought never to meet with a jarring vibration, never even to know in his young days that there is anything but love in the world. And when the time comes, as come it unhappily must, when he learns that in the outside world love is often sadly lacking – all the more let him feel that his home will never fail him, that there, at least, he may always count upon the uttermost love, the fullest comprehension.

It is obvious that the training of the parents’ character which is necessitated by these considerations is in every respect a splendid one, and that in thus helping on the evolution of their children they also benefit themselves to an extent which is absolutely incalculable, for the thoughts which at first have been summoned by conscious effort for the sake of the child will soon become natural and habitual, and will, in time, form the background of the parents’ entire life.

It must not be supposed that these precautions may be relaxed as the child grows older, for though this extraordinary sensitiveness to the influence of his surroundings commences as soon as the ego descends upon the embryo, long before birth takes place, it continues, in most cases, up to about the period of maturity. If such influences as are above suggested have been brought to bear upon him during infancy and childhood, the child of twelve or fourteen will be far better equipped for the efforts which lie before him than his less fortunate companions with whom no specialtrouble has been taken. But he is still far more impressionable than an adult; he still needs to be surrounded by the same boundless sea of never-failing love; the same strong help and guidance upon the mental level must still be continued, in order that the good habits both of thought and of action may not yield before the newer temptations which are likely to assail him.

Although in his earlier years it was naturally chiefly to his parents that he had to look for such assistance, all that has been said of their duties applies equally to anyone who comes into contact with children in any capacity, and most especially to those who undertake the tremendous responsibilities of the teacher. This influence of a master for good or for evil over his pupils is one that cannot readily be measured, and (exactly as before) it depends not only upon what he says or what he does, but even more upon what he thinks. Many a master repeatedly reproves in his boys the exhibition of tendencies for the creation of which he is himself directly responsible; if his thought is selfish or impure, then he will find selfishness and impurity reflected all around him, nor does the evil caused by such a thought end with those whom it immediately affects.

The young minds upon which it is reflected take it up and magnify and strengthen it, and thus it reacts upon others in turn and becomes an unholy tradition handed down from one generation of boys to another, and so stamps its peculiar character upon a particular school or a particular class. Happily, a good tradition may be set up almost as easily as a bad one – not quite as easily, because there are always undesirable external influences to be taken into account; but still, a teacher who realizes his responsibilities and manages his school upon the principles that have been suggested will soon find that his self-control and self-devotion have not been fruitless.

The Necessity for Love

There is only one way in which either parent or teacher can really obtain effective influence over a child and draw out all the best that is in him – and that is by enfolding him in the pure fire of a warm, constant, personal love, and thereby winning his love and confidence in return. More than any other qualification is this insisted upon in Alcyone’s wonderful book Education as Service – a book which every parent and teacher should read, for the sake of the sweet spirit which it breathes, and the valuable hints which it contains.

It is true that obedience may be extorted and discipline preserved by inspiring fear, but rules enforced by such a method are kept only so long as he who imposes them (or someone representing him) is present, and are invariably broken when there is no fear of detection; the child keeps them because he must, and not because he wishes to do so; and meantime the effect upon his character is of the most disastrous description.

If, on the other hand, his affection has been invoked, his will at once ranges itself on the side of the rule; he wishes to keep it, because he knows that in breaking it he would cause sorrow to one whom he loves; and if only this feeling be strong enough, it will enable him to rise superior to all temptation, and the rule will be binding, no matter who may be present or absent. Thus the object is attained not only much more thoroughly, but also much more easily and pleasantly both for teacher and pupil, and all the best side of the child’s nature is called into activity, instead of all the worst. Instead of rousing the child’s will into sullen and persistent opposition, the teacher arrays it on his own side in the contest against distractions or temptations; the danger of deceit and secretiveness is avoided, and thus results are achieved which could never be approached on the other system.

It is of the utmost importance always to try to understand the child, and to make him feel certain that he has one’s friendliness and sympathy. All appearance of harshness must be carefully avoided, and the reason of all instructions given to him should always be fully explained. It must indeed be made clear to him that sometimes sudden emergencies arise in which the older person has no time to explain his instructions, and he should understand that in such a case he should obey, even though he may not fully comprehend; but even then the explanation should be always given afterwards.

Unwise parents or teachers often make the mistake of habitually exacting obedience without understanding – a most unreasonable demand; indeed, they expect from the child at all times and under all conditions an angelic patience and saintliness which they are far indeed from possessing themselves. They have not yet realized that harshness towards a child is always not only wicked, but absolutely unreasonable and foolish as well, since it can never be the most effective way of obtaining from him what is desired.

A child’s faults are often the direct results of the unnatural way in which he is treated. Sensitive and nervous to a degree, he constantly finds himself misunderstood and scolded or ill-treated for offenses whose turpitude he does not in the least comprehend; is it any wonder that, when the whole atmosphere about him reeks with the deceit and falsehood of his elders, his fears should sometimes drive him into untruthfulness also? In such a case the karma of the sin will fall most heavily upon those who by their criminal harshness have placed a weak and undeveloped being in a position where it was almost impossible for him to avoid it.

If we expect truth from our children, we must first of all practice it ourselves; we must think truth as well as speak truth and act truth, before we can hope to be strong enough to save them from the sea of falsehood and deceit which surrounds us on every side. But if we treat them as reasonable beings – if we explain fully and patiently what we want from them, and show them that they have nothing to fear from us, because ‘perfect love casteth out fear’ – then we shall find no difficulty about truthfulness.

Undoubtedly Nature intends that childhood shall be a happy time, and we ought to spare no efforts to make it so, for in that respect, as in all others, if we thwart Nature we do so at our peril. A hymn tells us: ‘God would have us happy, happy all the day,’ and in this case as in all others it is our duty and our privilege to be fellow workers together with Him.

It will help us much in our dealings with children if we remember that they also are egos, that their small and feeble physical bodies are but the accident of the moment, and that in reality we are all about the same age; so that we owe them respect as well as affection, and we must not expect to impose our will or individuality upon theirs. Our business in training them is to develop only that in their lower vehicles which will cooperate with the ego – which will make them better channels for the ego to work through. Long ago, in the golden age1 of the old Atlantean civilization, the importance of the office of the teacher of the children was so fully recognized that none was permitted to hold it except a trained clairvoyant, who could see all the latent qualities and capabilities of his charges, and could, therefore, work intelligently with each, so as to develop what was good in him and to amend what was evil.

In the distant future of the sixth root-race that will be so once more; but that time is, as yet, far away, and we have to do our best under less favorable conditions. Yet unselfish affection is a wonderful quickener of the intuition, and those who really love their children will rarely be at a loss to comprehend their needs; and keen and persistent observation will give them, though at the cost of much more trouble, some approach to the clearer insight of their Atlantean predecessors. At any rate, it is well worth the trying, for when once we realize our true responsibility in relation to children we shall assuredly think no labor too great which enables us to discharge it better. Love is not always wise, we know; but at least it is wiser than carelessness, and parents and teachers who truly love will be thereby spurred on to gain wisdom for the sake of the children.

Religious Training

Many members of the Theosophical Society, while feeling that their children need something to take the place filled in ordinary education by the religious training, have yet found it almost impossible so to put Theosophy before them as to make it in any way intelligible to them. Some have even permitted their children to go through the ordinary routine of Bible lessons, saying that they did not know what else to do, and that though much of the teaching was obviously untrue it could be corrected afterwards. This course is entirely indefensible; no child should ever waste his time in learning what he will have to unlearn afterwards. If the true inner meaning of Christianity can be taught to our children, that indeed is well, because that is pure Theosophy; but unfortunately that is not the form which religious instruction takes in ordinary schools.

There is no real difficulty in putting the grand truths of Theosophy intelligibly before the minds of our children. It is useless to trouble them with rounds and races, with mūlaprakṛtiand planetary chains; but then, however interesting and valuable all this information may be, it is of little importance in the practical regulation of conduct, whereas the great ethical truths upon which the whole system rests can, happily, be made clear even to the children’s understanding. What could be simpler in essence than the three great truths which are given to [the person] Sensa in [Mabel Collins’ spiritual novel on the battle between good and evil in an ancient Egyptian temple – Ed.] The Idyll of the White Lotus:

The soul of man is immortal, and its future is the future of a thing whose growth and splendor have no limit.

The principle which gives life dwells in us and without us, is undying and eternally beneficent, is not heard, nor seen, nor smelt but is perceived by the man who desires perception.

Each man is his own absolute lawgiver, the dispenser of glory or gloom to himself – the decreer of his life, his reward, his punishment.

These truths, which are as great as is life itself, are as simple as the simplest mind of man. Feed the hungry with them.

We might express these more tersely by saying: “Man is immortal; God is good; as we sow, so shall we reap.” Surely none of our children can fail to grasp these simple ideas in their broad outline, though as they grow older they may spend many a year in learning more and more of the immensity of their full meaning.

Teach them the grand old formula that ‘death is the gate of life’ – not a terrible fate to be feared, but simply a stage of progress to be welcomed with interest. Teach them to live, not for themselves, but for others – to go through the world as friends and helpers, earnest in loving reverence and care for all living things. Teach them to delight in seeing and in causing happiness in others, in animals and birds as well as in human beings; teach them that to cause pain to any living thing is always a wicked action, and can never have aught of interest or amusement for any right-thinking or civilized man. A child’s sympathies are so easily roused, and his delight in doing something is so great, that he responds at once to the idea that he should try to help, and should never harm, all the creatures around him. He should be taught to be observant, that he may see where help is needed, whether by man or by animal, and promptly to supply the want so far as lies in his power.

A child likes to be loved, and he likes to protect, and both these feelings may be utilized in training him to be a friend of all creatures. He will readily learn to admire flowers as they grow, and not wish to pluck them heedlessly, casting them aside a few minutes later to wither on the roadside; those which he plucks he will pick carefully, avoiding injury to the plant.

Physical Training

The physical training of the child is a matter of the greatest importance, for a strong, pure, healthy body is necessary for the full expression of the developing soul within. Teach him from the first the exceeding importance of physical purity, so that he may regard his daily bath as just as much an integral part of his life as his daily food. See to it that his body is never befouled with such filthy abominations of modern savagery as meat, alcohol or tobacco; see to it that he has always plenty of sunlight, of fresh air and of exercise.

Where the urban life is unfortunately unavoidable, he should at least be taken out of the city as often as possible, and kept out as long as possible.

So shall your child grow up pure, healthy and happy; so shall you provide, for the soul entrusted to your care, a casket of which it need not be ashamed, a vehicle through which it shall receive only the highest and best that the physical world can give – which it can use as a fitting instrument for the noblest and the holiest work.

As the parent teaches the child, he will also be obliged to set the example in this as in other things, and so the child will thus again civilize his elders as well as improve himself. Birds and butterflies, cats and dogs, all will be his friends, and he will delight in their beauty instead of longing to chase or destroy them. Children thus trained will grow up into men and women who recognize their place in evolution and their work in the world, and each will serve as a fresh center of humanizing force, gradually changing the direction of human influence on all lower things.

If thus we train our children, if we are thus careful in our relations with them, we shall bear nobly our great responsibility, and in so doing we shall help on the grand work of evolution; we shall be doing our duty, not only to our children, but to the human race – not only to these particular egos, but to the many millions yet to come.

– Charles Webster Leadbeater

From: The Hidden Side of Things

(Chapter 22)

  1. The golden age refers to the early part of the civilization of Atlantis, which declined towards black magic in later stages. –Ed. []