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Volume III - The Art of Personality

Part I - Education

Chapter 1


It is never too soon in the life of a child for it to receive education. The soul of an infant is like a photographic plate which has never been exposed before, and whatever impression falls on that photographic plate covers it. No other impressions which come afterwards have the same effect. Therefore when the parents or guardians lose the opportunity of impressing an infant in its early childhood they lose the greatest opportunity.

In the Orient there is a superstition that an undesirable person must not be allowed to come near an infant. If the parents or relatives see that a certain person should not be in the presence of an infant, that person is avoided, for the very reason that the infant is like a photographic plate. The soul is negative, fully responsive, and susceptible to every influence; and the first impression that falls on a soul takes root in it.

In the first place an infant brings with it to the earth the spirit with which it is impressed from the angelic spheres and from the plane of the jinn; it has also inherited from the earth qualities from both its parents and of their families. After coming on earth the first impression that an infant receives is from the environment, the surroundings, from those who touch it and move and work in its surroundings. And the impression after coming to earth is so strong that very often it erases the impressions that an infant has inherited from the higher spheres, and also the heritage from its parents. This happens because the mind that has been formed of the impressions which the infant has brought from the higher spheres is not yet positive. It is just like a pot of clay which has not yet gone through the fire; it has not yet developed.

The qualities that an infant has inherited from its parents are also in the same negative state; and they are perfected after the child has come on earth. Therefore the first impression that falls upon an infant after coming on earth is all the stronger. The first process in making pottery is to mold pots of clay, and the second process is to put them in the fire. When they are put in the fire they become strong, they become positive; before they are put in the fire they are negative. In the same way a photographic plate is first negative; afterwards, when it has undergone a certain process, it becomes positive. And that is the process through which the soul passes in its infancy; and then it goes through a certain development. All that it has brought from the higher spheres and from its family becomes developed, becomes positive or solid, in other words it becomes condensed; because that is the time when the spirit is being formed and is becoming positive. If an undesirable impression has fallen upon an infant at that time, no matter what education is given later that first impression remains concrete and solid. Nothing can erase it because infancy is the moment when the soul is becoming positive.

In educating the child the first rule that must be remembered is that one person must educate it, not everybody in the family. It is a great mistake when everyone in the family tries to train the infant or to take care of it, because that keeps an infant from forming a character. Each one has its own influence and each influence is different from the other. But most often what happens is that the parents never think of education at all in infancy. They think that is the age when the child is a doll, a toy; that everyone can handle it and play with it. They do not think that it is the most important moment in the souls life; that never again will that opportunity come for a soul to develop.

Should the father or the mother educate the child? A man's life demands all his attention in his work; the mother is born with the sense of duty towards her child, and therefore the mother has the first right to educate it. The mother can also quiet the child in the first days of its life, because the child is a part of the mother, and therefore the rhythm of the mother's spirit is akin to the rhythm of the child's spirit. The soul that has come from above is received and is reared and taken care of by the mother; and therefore the mother is its best friend. If there is anything that the father can do, it is to help the mother or the guardian to educate the child. If the child in its infancy were given entirely into the hand of the father, there would be little hope that it would come out right. Because a man is a child all his life, and the help that is needed in the life of an infant is that of the mother. Nevertheless, later in the life of a child there comes a time when the father's influence is equally needed; but that time is not in infancy. As the Brahmin says, the first Guru is the mother, the second Guru is the father, and the third Guru is the teacher.

That one person who takes an infant in hand in order to train it must first establish a friendship with it. There was in India a Mazda, a sage, who used to live among elephants. He used to share his bread with them and sleep near them. At the same time there were those who were appointed to take care of the elephants. They controlled them with their spears and with their commands. Very often the elephant listened to them; but when an elephant was mad it would not listen to the, and often a keeper was killed at such times. The elephant would not recognize the keeper when it was mad. But this sage had a friendship with all the elephants, with the mad and the sober and with every one of them. He used to go near them and pat them and look at them and talk with them, and he would sleep near them unconcerned; yet they would never touch him.

What does this show? It shows that there are two ways of controlling. One is the way of mastering, and the other is of becoming friends. By mastering you will diminish the will of the person you master. By being friends you will sustain his will power, and at the same time help. In the one case you make of the person a slave; in the other case you make out of that person a king. In training an infant one must remember that his mind-power, which means will power, must not be diminished, and yet an infant must be controlled.

There are five different subjects in which an infant must be trained in the first year: Discipline, balance, concentration, ethics, and relaxation.

When once friendship is established with an infant the guardian is able to attract its attention and the infant will respond to the guardian. And that must be the necessary first condition. That condition must first be produced before beginning education. When once an infant begins to respond fully to the guardian, then discipline can be taught; but not by anger, not by agitation, as the guardian very often does. For an infant is often very trying, and is sometimes more stubborn than any grown-up person can be, and most difficult to control.

The best way of teaching the infant discipline is without agitation, without showing any temper or annoyance, only repeating the action before it. For instance, the infant wants something which it should not have, while the guardian wishes it should play with a particular toy. This toy must be given continually into its hand; and when the child throws it away, or when it cries give it again; and when the child does not look at it, give it again. By repeating the same action you will bring the infant automatically to respond to you and to obey. It is a wrong method when the guardian wishes to control an infant and wishes to teach it discipline by forcing a certain action upon it. It is repetition which will bring about discipline. It only requires patience. For instance, if the infant is crying for its food or for something else when it is not time for it, one should attract its attention towards something else, even against its wishes. The best thing is repetition.

Balance can be taught to an infant by bringing its rhythm at the moment when it is excited by a certain action, to a normal condition. For instance, when an infant is very excited, then the rhythm of its action and movement is not normal. By clapping the hands, or by rattling, or by knocking on something one can make the rhythm of the infant change to one's own rhythm; because any noise will attract an infant, and a noise made in a certain rhythm will influence its rhythm according to it. However excited the infant may be, begin by making some noise in its rhythm, and then bring it to a normal rhythm. For instance, if a rattle or something similar is first moved with the infant's rhythm, and then moved gradually in a slower rhythm, the infant will come naturally to that rhythm. The excitement will abate; the whole condition of the infant's mind, the blood circulation, the movements, the expression, everything will change to a normal rhythm.

There are three rhythms. There is a rhythm of passiveness, where the child is not active at all. That means the child is not well or there is something wrong with it, something that should not be. There is a second rhythm where the child is active but not excited; that is the normal rhythm. And there is a third rhythm where the child is excited. That excitement must be brought to the second rhythm, where the child was active but not excited. This can be brought about by giving a child what it likes. If it does not like one toy, give another toy; and if not that toy, another toy, and yet another toy. In this way do everything to occupy its mind, so that for some moments it will keep to one thing.

The excitement of the infant is the changing of the rhythm; for the infant has no control over its own rhythm. It goes on at a greater and greater speed, until it cries or laughs. And the laughter or the cry is just the same. On the one side the infant will laugh and on the other side cry, because its rhythm is not normal. It can only be brought to a normal condition by the guardian's effort. But if one gets agitated or does not like the infant or is displeased with it, then one cannot help it.

Should one stop an infant from crying? It is better to distract the mind of a child that is crying than to let it cry, but at the same time it is very natural for a child to cry sometimes. If the child does not cry, it means that there is something lacking in it, that the child is not normal. One must use discretion in how much one allows the child to cry and when to stop it. One can allow it to go as far as a certain rhythm; when it has reached that rhythm, then it must not cry any longer; that is the time to stop it. But when a mother, annoyed with the infant, stops its crying the moment it begins, it has a bad effect on its nervous system. And very often a guardian will put the child into the cradle or somewhere else to cry by itself. But that means leaving it in the same rhythm, and that does not help. In that way the child will become worse and worse, and more and more nervous everyday.

And now regarding the concentration of an infant. Toys with different colors, fruits, flowers, things that attract an infant should be brought before it, whatever attracts most; and then one must try and attract its attention to that particular object, let it play with it, let it look at it, be interested in it. In this way the guardian can develop in the child the faculty of concentration, which will be of the greatest importance when it is grown-up. If this quality is not developed, it will be very difficult for the child to concentrate when it grows up. Besides that, one brings a great interest into the life of the child when it begins to concentrate. And the child concentrates without knowing it. Give it any beautiful thing it likes to amuse itself with, and if its fancy is taken by it, if it is absorbed in it, the child will concentrate naturally upon it. It is good for the child, for its soul and its body, because concentration is all the power there is.

Regarding ethics: This important word is used here, but in reality, the greatest ethics or morals that one can learn in life are friendliness, which culminates in generosity; and it is never too soon to cultivate this seed of morals in the child. When you give something to an infant which it likes, and with friendliness and sympathy and love you ask the child to give it to you, that brings about the feeling of giving and at the same time the feeling of friendliness. Very often the infant is not willing to give, but that means it is not trained to do so. You do not need to force it out of its hands, but by having patience and repeating your wish that the object may be given to you, in the end the infant will give it. It may be that the first three or four times, if the child is very tenacious by nature, it will refuse, but in the end it will give it to you; and in this way it is taught the essence of morals.

Should one teach an infant that there are certain things it owns and other things which do not belong to it? Whatever an infant sees, whomever it belongs to, the infant owns it, and owns it as its birthright. It has not yet awakened to this world of limitations, of divisions. All that is there belongs to it; it really belongs to the infant. It is our consciousness of duality that makes us poor. The infant is rich, richer than anyone in this whole world. The infant has the riches of God; because, as everything belongs to God, so, too, everything belongs to an infant. And therefore there is no desire on the part of an infant to own anything: the infant owns all things. It is experience of the world that gives the child, as it grows, the desire to own, because then it becomes limited; then there are things which belong to others and certain things which belong to the child, and this means limitation.

Sometimes people think, 'Is it not wrong in a way to make a person generous in this wicked world, where everyone wishes to snatch away everything from everybody he sees? And especially all the simple people who are giving, who are generous, they are the ones who do not take, but others do.' The answer is that a selfish person is his own enemy. He thinks that selfishness is profitable, but his own action works against him. It might seemingly give him success. By selfishness he might earn riches or by a tenacious quality hold onto a position, rank or something else; but at the same time he is defeating his own object, he is making himself weak. Besides in the end, whatever be one's experience, one will come to the realization that from those who pursue the world, the world runs away, and those who turn their backs on the world, the world follows. The spirit of all morals and ethics is friendliness, learning to sacrifice and learning to serve; and that last lesson can be given first to an infant.

Finally we come to relaxation. The infant can become very troublesome to the guardian and to others if it has not learned relaxation properly. But relaxation is learned by an infant much sooner than by a grown-up person. One only needs to put the infant in an even rhythm, to give it calm and quiet surroundings, to place it in a comfortable position, to make passes over the child to give its nervous system rest, looking into its eyes with sympathy and with the thought of its going to sleep, producing by one's own thought and feeling and atmosphere a restful and peaceful atmosphere for an infant so that it can experience relaxation.

It is very necessary for these five different subjects to be taught in infancy. Besides that regularity should be observed in everything concerning an infant. In its food, in its sleep, in everything there must be regularity, because nature is rhythmic. The four seasons come regularly; the rising and setting of the sun, and the waxing and waning of the moon, all show that nature is rhythmic. By observing the rules of regularity with an infant one can build a foundation for a soul to grow up most successfully.


While the infant is being nursed by its own mother the heart quality is being formed in it; and it is upon that quality that the feeling of the infant depends for its whole life. Not understanding this, people today have other methods of feeding an infant; and by these that spirit of heritage and many merits and qualities that the child has to develop, become blunted. Mechanical food is prepared, and the child's heart becomes mechanical when it grows up. Once a Mogul emperor was very much astonished when he saw his son shaken by the noise of a gun, and he said to his minister, 'I cannot understand how a child of my family could show such a trait.' The wise minister said, 'If you will inquire how the child was brought up, you will find that it was not nursed by its mother.

Just as the flesh of different animals is affected by each particular animal's character, so with everything one eats one partakes of its spirit. An infant is destined to receive qualities from its mother, in the form of food; and it is these qualities which become a fertilizer for the development of its heart. Food, made from the juice of fruits or meat and stored in bottles or tins, when given to an infant at an early age, forms undesirable atoms, and causes the infant to grow denser everyday. If the mother is unable to nurse the infant herself, the best way is to find a nurse. And that nurse must be considered not only from the health point of view, as many do, but also from the character point of view. She must be looked at from every angle.

When the infant is cutting its teeth the mind develops; that is the time of the development of the mind. By keenly watching an infant grow, one will find that the day when it begins to cut its teeth the expression of its eyes changes; a mind is born, a thought is created. It is from that time that it begins to take notice of things and begins to think. The coming of the teeth is only an outward manifestation; the inner process is that the mind is forming. It is therefore a most important time in the life of an infant. For what is mind? Mind is the world. The infant at that time is forming the world in which it will live.

The moment when an infant begins to stand up and walk is the moment when power is beginning to become manifest in it. Enthusiasm, courage, the power of enduring, the power of patience, the power of perseverance, all these come at that time; it is the time when power is bestowed upon an infant. And the moment when the infant begins to speak is the time that its spirit has formed, that the mind is connected with the soul and connected with the body; The whole spirit is made at that moment.

From that moment the child should be considered as an individual. It is a little individual which then begins to have in itself the essence of everything and all things in the world; for in every soul there is a spark of every object and every quality that exists in the whole universe. And so, at this time when the spirit is completed, the essence of all the different qualities and merits and objects that exist in the world has formed as a spark in the infant.

The best way, therefore, for a mother to educate an infant is to educate herself. The calmness, the quietness, the tenderness, the gentleness, everything the mother cultivates in her nature at that particular time when the infant is nursed, the infant will receive as a lesson in its cradle. The heart qualities are the most profound qualities man has; brain qualities come afterwards; and it is the heart qualities which make the basis of the whole life. At that particular time such qualities as kindness, sympathy, affection, tenderness, gentleness, mildness develop, and it is at that time also that regularity is taught to the child, when the child learns its first lesson in being punctual. Unconsciously, it learns a rhythm. It knows the time when it should be fed. It does not need a watch to look at; it knows its time of resting, it knows its time of feeding. And by introducing rhythm into the mind of the child you put it on the road to perfection.

Mothers who get annoyed with an infant, who put it aside and say, 'Well, let him cry for a time', considering other work more important. Do not know what they are missing. Handling the child is the greatest opportunity. And even if they do it at the greatest sacrifice, it is worthwhile. Because once an infant is impressed with being neglected by the mother, there remains all its life an impression, in the deepest depth of its being, of a soreness. And when a person grows up he feels it unconsciously. And then he is displeased and dissatisfied with everybody he meets. When one lets an infant be fed at any time and be put to sleep at any time, that keeps it from a proper, even rhythm. And hinders its progress in life. For infancy is the first step on the path of progress.

When the mind of an infant is being formed, when it is cutting its teeth. People sometimes give it a rattle or something of rubber or wood, to put in its mouth. From a psychological point of view this is most undesirable, because it does not answer the purpose of the mouth. The mouth is for eating. Physically it is not good for its nerves and its gums. And psychologically it accomplishes no purpose. In the same way anything that is given to an infant at that age which does not serve a particular purpose, is a wrong thing to give. A child must not be deceived, even from its childhood, by an object which has no purpose. Even from infancy every object that is given to the child must inspire him with its use. An object that has no use, that serves no purpose, hinders the progress of an infant.

The moment when the infant stands up and walks is a moment which should be guarded with the greatest interest and keenness. This is the moment when the powers are being manifested. And if these powers are used and directed towards something, a box or a tray, or something which is not inspiring, which does not give back something to the child, those powers are being blunted at every effort the child makes to go towards it. Then the best thing is to call the child towards oneself, to gain the child's sympathy and attention. This attracts the child and gives new life. Nothing one does with an infant should be purposeless. If it is so, then its whole life will be purposeless. There are many who after they are grown-up cannot accomplish a certain purpose in their life. Very often the reason is that from their childhood, when the forces were rising, they were not directed to a purpose. It does not matter if a sweet were put there, or a fruit or a flower; if the child was directed to bring that, then there is a purpose. But when the child is directed to go to a box, or to the wall or door, where it has no gain, then the effort which has risen unconsciously is lost.

The beginning of a person's life is of greater importance than the latter part, because it is in childhood that the road is made for him to go forward in life. And who makes the road? It is the guardian of the child who makes the road for it. If that road is not made and the guardian is asleep, then the child has great difficulty when it is grown-up. School education and college education will come afterwards; but the education of the greatest importance in the life of a soul comes in its infancy.

Now there is a symbolism in the actions of a child. If the child goes straight towards something, That shows the straightness of his nature. If the child is wobbly, then it shows lack of will power. If the child goes to one side and stands there, and then goes to another side and another, and then walks back, this shows that there is a fear, a doubt, and that the mind is not clear. If its mind were clear, the child would go straight. If it stops on the way, then this itself is a hindrance in its future life.

If the child runs and reaches a certain place, it is impulsive and venturesome; it will jump into something when it is grown-up. But if an infant as soon as it begins to walk adopts a proper rhythm and reaches a desired spot, that infant is very promising. It shows singleness of purpose and balance by the rhythm of its walk. An infant which is beginning to walk, and which does not look at the guardian, but is only interested in what it sees before it, will be indifferent when it grows up. But an infant who, after going to a place, is attracted again to the guardian shows the heart quality. He will be a loving soul.

Should one do gymnastics with an infant? No, an infant is too young for gymnastics. But every action that can be taught in order to bring about a rhythm and balance and discipline, and concentration and affectionate feeling, works towards building its future; and thus the first education is the foundation of its character.

By saying that one person and not several should train an infant, one does not mean that the infant should be kept away from everyone. No doubt others can entertain the infant for a moment; they can see it, they can admire, they can love it; but only for a short time. If four or five persons are handling it at the same time, then the child's character will not be decided; it will neither be one thing nor the other. If the same guardian watches over the child all the time this will always be beneficial whether the infant is with others or not.

When an infant reaches the age of two or three years, it is most beneficial if it is taught a moment of silence. But one might say, 'How can a silence be taught?' A silence can be taught by attracting an infant's attention very keenly, and this can be done by rhythm. When you make a certain noise by clapping your hands or by making a rhythm, and when you attract the attention of an infant fully, then if you wish it to be inactive, you can hold it in an inactive condition for a moment. And that can do a great deal of good. It could become a kind of religious or esoteric education from infancy. If an infant can keep his eyes from blinking, and his breath and the movement of his hands and legs suspended for one moment, it accomplishes even at that age a meditation.

Furthermore, when the infant is beginning to utter sounds, such as, ba, pa, ma, boo, goo, one should not take it as something unimportant or something which has no meaning. One must realize that each such sound is a new lesson that an infant has learnt from the world, and one should give that word great importance, because it is the first word and that is a divine word. The best way of training an infant to learn the meaning of these words and sounds is to repeat with it the same sounds, to let the child hear the same word over and over again, and become interested in what it is saying. And then to attract its attention to objects and persons of that name. It is in this way that the words ma and pa have come into being. It is not that someone else has given these names. The infant has given them to its father and mother. Others have added to those words and made them mater, madder, mother, but it began with ma and pa. It is a natural word, it has come from the depth of the mind of the infant' It is a divine word. Its origin is a divine origin.

Such a word as 'mummy' is the third word, and is brought about with the help of the guardian. The first word is ma, the second word is mama, and the third word is mummy; mama is extended to mummy.  As fashions come in dress, so there come fancies in words. People like to use a certain word for some time and then it becomes a fashion.

One can help an infant by repeating different words with it and by pointing out to it the meaning of the words, instead of always urging upon it another word to be repeated. One spoils the ear of an infant that way. The Nawab of Rampur once expressed a desire to the chief musician of his court to learn music himself, and the master said, 'I will teach you music on one condition, and that is that you do not listen to every kind of music that comes your way. When bad music is heard the ear becomes spoiled; and then you cannot discriminate between bad music and good music.

So it is with an infant. The infant is saying pa, and the mother is saying leaf. The infant is saying something and the guardian is saying something else. There is no harmony and no purpose is accomplished. The infant is unable to say leaf; it is beginning to say pa. Its own intuition has guided it, and it is better to go with nature and to let an infant be enlightened by every sound it makes, by showing it something connected with that sound. It is in this way that an infant is helped to speak. Then, if it learns to speak by nature's method, it promises one day to speak from intuition.

It is the will which has brought the child to earth, otherwise it would not have come. It comes by its own will and it stays by its own will. The will is like the steam that makes the engine go forward. If the child wishes to go back, that depends upon its wish. It is always by the will of the soul. And therefore in the child you see the will in the form in which it has come. But often during childhood the will is broken, and then it remains broken all through life. If in childhood the parents took good care that the will was not broken, then the will would manifest itself in wonders. The child would do wonderful things in life if its will was sustained, if it was cherished.


The infant that is born on earth brings with it the air of heaven. In its expression, in its smiles, even in its cry you hear the melody of the heavens. The Sufi point of view is that an infant is an exile from heaven, and that is why its first expression on earth is a cry. The soul that comes from above feels uncomfortable on the dense earth. This atmosphere is strange and not free; and it is a feeling of exile that makes the soul cry, a feeling of horror, of a terror of this world of woes.

When a child comes to this earth without a cry it indicates abnormality. The child is quite abnormal, and it will not have a full development, because the new sphere has not struck it; in other words, it is not fully awake to the new sphere. Bring a waking person here, he will look at what is going on; bring a drunken person, he will sit here in intoxication. He does not know what is going on, he is not aware of the conditions, he does not care. And so it is with an infant. There is hardly a case where an infant does not cry; but if there is such a case there is something wrong. Why is the soul so much attracted to the earth? It is attracted to the earth because it is bound to the earth. It is the soul's passion to manifest; it is only expressing its passion.

Before the infant came to the world it had educators too, one or many educators. It first had educators on the jinn plane, the inhabitants of that plane and the ones going back who met it on the jinn plane. The older ones on the angelic plane have their experience, their life, their feeling to impart to a new soul going further on the journey. It is from there that an infant has brought the feeling of admiration for all beauty, the feeling and love of harmony, innocence and depth of feelings. Then it met other teachers on the jinn plane, and these teachers are the ones to whom it was directed from the angelic plane; because according to its association on the angelic plane it takes a certain route; a certain direction. It is the first instructors in the life of an infant who have the influence which directs and determines its destiny on the jinn plane.

Can the soul choose its instructor on the angelic and jinn planes, one may ask, or is it helpless before anyone is attracted to it? There is always free will and the lack of it on all planes. If we go into the midst of the city, there are some things that we purposely want to see; we are looking for them. And at the same time there are many things which attract our attention also without any intention on our part. In the same way, when the soul arrives it is attracted to things and beings which it had no intention of being attracted to, and at the same time it has its choice; it has both.

The experiences of the infant before birth on the higher planes are not directed by the stars as we understand it from the astrological point of view; it is from the time that it comes to the earth that its connection with the stars begins. But at the same time there are other factors which to a large extent determine the souls destiny.

On the jinn plane the soul receives instruction from the inhabitants of that sphere. And also from those who have just returned from the earth, eager to give to the infant their experience, their knowledge, and all they still have with them brought from earth. They would have given to it even what they had on the earthly plane, but no one is allowed to take to other sphere what he has collected here. All that belongs to this sphere a person must leave behind in order to be free and in order to be allowed to enter the higher spheres. And therefore, what they have is what they have collected in those spheres while they were on earth. That is all they have, the thoughts, impressions, feelings, experiences and knowledge they have gained. It is all, so to speak, a collection which a person makes in the higher spheres, but it is not something which can be deposited in the bank. So when man has left to the earth all that he has borrowed from the earth, then he goes on with only that property which he has deposited or collected in the higher spheres without knowing it. Very few on earth know that while they live on the earthly plane they are collecting something in the higher plane. They live at the same time on the higher plane, but they do not know it.

With this heritage and with this knowledge and instruction that it has received from one or many, an infant comes to the earth. People might object that an infant does not show any sign of any knowledge of the earth nor of the heavens; it does not show any sign of the angelic world nor of the world of the jinns. They do not know that an infant can perceive or can receive impressions of human beings much more readily than grown-up people. The infant at once senses the right person; and sometimes it perceives more than a grown-up person. Besides that, we grown-up people think that we appreciate music, but if we realized the sense that an infant has brought with it of appreciating sound and rhythm, we would never boast of knowing music. The infant is music itself. In the cradle it is moving its little arms and legs in a certain rhythm. And when our music falls on the ears of an infant it is of the lowest character compared with the music it is accustomed to.

At the same time it begins to move its legs and its arms to the rhythm of the dense music. We may believe we have the finest music, but for an infant it is the most dense music; it is accustomed to much finer music than we can conceive. It longs for it, it looks for it; and what we give as a substitute does not satisfy it. For a moment it tries to listen to it, it tries to enjoy, to like it; but at the same time it does not feel at home, it turns its back and wants to go away. Only for a moment it tries to enjoy it, thinking it is something that belongs to its country, which means the heavens; and then it finds out: no, it is foreign. That is the only reason why an infant will cry in the middle of a concert; if it were not so an infant would enjoy it more than anyone.

It takes some time for an infant to become accustomed to the life of the earth. And what makes it accustomed to it? Color. Color is what attracts most, and then sound. When it gets accustomed to the dense sound and the dense color, then it gradually begins to lose its heavenly attributes. And when its first wish is to change from being an angel and walk like an animal, when it begins to creep, it begins its earthly life; but before that it was an angel. Infancy is angelic; it is not the jinn time, it is the angelic time.

Infancy may be divided into three parts: the first three years are real infancy. The first year the infant is most angelic; the second year there is a little shade of the jinn sphere; and the third year it begins to manifest the earthly influence, the influence of this world. So an infant becomes worldly in its first year.

Why is it that an infant, though still conscious of the angelic planes, has no feeling of kindness originally? The angels are not obliged to be kind. They are kindness itself, but that angelic kindness must awaken here. Kindness and cruelty are learned after coming here; when the infant comes, it comes with love alone. Everything else is taught here. And if the guardians knew this, they would help the child much better. There are many qualities that the soul has brought from the higher spheres, but those qualities remain undeveloped if they remain buried, if they are not given an opportunity to develop. Thus, if kindness has not been given an opportunity to develop in the child, the kindness will remain buried in the depth of its heart all its life, and it will not know it.

Parents sometimes think that it is bad manners for an infant to put its hand in its mouth, and therefore they give it something made of wood or rubber, or something else. It very much hinders its real progress in life, because every soul is born to reach the ideal of being self-sufficient. An infant tries from the beginning to put its hand in its mouth when the mouth wants something; and the parents, in order to teach good manners, give it something else, making the infant more artificial. If they left it to its natural tendency, they would help its growth, its progress toward a higher ideal. What are the saints and sages and adepts and mystics doing during their time of spiritual attainment? They eliminate everything in their life which makes them depend on things outside. They eat with their hands; instead of taking plates they use leaves; and everything that they do shows that they wish to become independent.

By independence is meant self-sufficiency: that what they can get from their own self they must not look for outside. That is the principal motive of those who are striving for self-attainment, because it is the means of overcoming the sorrows and troubles and woes of this life. One sees a constant striving in the life of the adepts to make themselves independent of outside things as much as possible. On the other hand worldly people think it progress if they can become daily more dependent on others. Every step we take is towards dependence; and the more we depend upon others, the more we think we are progressing. In the end we come to such a stage that for what the soul needs, what the mind needs, what the body needs, we depend upon others. And, not knowing this, we teach the child to put something else instead of its little hand in its mouth. In reality, it is natural for an infant to put its hand in its mouth; and that is the purest and the cleanest toy that it can have to play with.

The Quran says there is time for everything. And so there is a time, there is day, an hour, a moment fixed for the child to change its attitude: to learn to sit, to learn to stand, to learn to walk. But when the parents, eager to see the child stand or sit or walk, help it, the child will do it before the time, and that works against its development. Because it is not only that it begins to learn to sit or stand or to walk. There is a far greater meaning in it. These are different stages which an infant goes through in its spiritual life. Physically these are just ordinary actions; spiritually it is a stage. When the child sits it is a stage; when it stands it is a stage; when it begins to walk it is a stage. These are like three first initiations in the life of an infant.

In order to understand the meaning of an infant's laughter and cry one must become an infant, because it is the language of another sphere. But when a person does not trouble about it, then its cry is only a nuisance and its laughter is a game. Sometimes people wish to make the child laugh more and more because they are interested or as an entertainment. Or people neglect the child, leaving it to cry, and pay no attention. Or when an infant is crying the mother says, 'Be quiet, be quiet'. In all these cases they lose the opportunity of understanding the language of an infant. This is the opportunity for the guardian, for the mother, for the one who looks after an infant, to learn the heavenly language. For there is nothing that has no meaning, and every movement of an infant, who is an expression, an example, from above has a meaning. But as we are absorbed from morning to evening in the responsibilities and duties of the world, we forget the responsibility and duty to the infant. And because the infant cannot speak in our language and tell us how neglectful we are of what it wants, and what it needs, and what can be done for it, there remains a wall of separation between mother and child.

An infant knows and feels the presence of an undesirable person in the atmosphere around it. It is very unwise when people engage any nurse that comes along to take care of their infant. And it is unfortunate in these days when mothers have many other occupations, that they cannot take charge of their infant themselves, and have to send it to what they call a creche, a place where they take care of infants. This does not mean that to keep an infant among many other infants is not right, but at the same time it is only after we have grown up in this dense world that we come together, if not very much, at least partially. It is always difficult for many people to work together, to be together, to live together; and yet we have been here on this earth so many years, and we have become accustomed to the life of the earth. But what about an infant who has just arrived and who is placed among other infants, where the gap between the evolution of one infant and another is infinitely greater than the difference between two grown-up persons? They are not yet accustomed to being together, and the atmosphere of one infant is bad for another. It is alright for many soldiers to be together in one room, for many patients to be together in one hospital; but for many infants to be put in one place after being exiled from paradise to this earth, imagine what it means for them to have this experience! It is like a king banished from his kingdom. No doubt after six months or a year an infant becomes accustomed to it; but at the same time the individuality of the soul and the development of the personality become blunted.

No doubt a great amount of patience is required to take care of an infant. But patience is never wasted; patience is a process through which a soul passes and becomes precious. Souls who have risen above the world's limitations and sorrows, the worlds falseness and deception, they are the souls who have passed through patience. If it is the destiny of the guardian or the mother to acquire patience, she must know that there is nothing lost, but that she has gained something in her life. To raise an infant, to look after it, to educate it, and to give oneself to its service, is as much and as good a work as the work of an adept; because an adept forgets himself by meditation, a mother forgets herself by giving her life to the child.

There is always a possibility of giving an infant bad habits. For example sometimes a guardian enjoys the laughter of an infant and thus makes it laugh more and more, because it is amusing. But however much an infant has laughed, so much it must cry afterwards, in order to make a balance. And then there may be another mother who, as soon as an infant has opened its mouth to cry says, 'Quiet, quiet!'; but if an infant then becomes quiet, something in its character is broken. It wants to cry, it must be allowed to cry; there is something in its character that wants to come out.

There is also a tendency in an infant to throw things about, to slap, to kick, to tear, to break things. Sometimes it is such a little thing that is broken or spoiled that the mother thinks its behavior is enjoyable. But if an infant is allowed to do what ought not to be encouraged, it will only make it difficult for it later. It must be corrected, but at the same time it must not be corrected with anger or annoyance. It should be corrected repeatedly by giving the infant something to do which is different from what it was doing before. One should always keep an infant focused on things that will be good for it, and try to divert its attention from things that it must not do, instead of enjoying and amusing oneself with things that it does which the parents may think do not matter.

It is very difficult to stop an infant in its first year from destroying things. Besides the inclination to destroy things is a great virtue in the child. It is the desire of the soul to know the mystery of life; because every object before an infant is a cover over the mystery the soul is looking for. It is annoyed with it because it is a cover. It wants to know by breaking it what it is.

However, it is possible to stop the infant from breaking things by suggestion, not by getting annoyed. Annoyance must be avoided, because it is not good for an infant if one is annoyed with it. The more patience one has with an infant the better; its will becomes more powerful. But if you are annoyed, then the nervous system of the infant deteriorates, and it becomes depressed. Its nervous system becomes contracted, it becomes tired; and when it is grown up a fear remains. One must be extremely careful with an infant that its nerves do not get cramped. Its nervous centers are delicate; and these are the centers which are intuitive centers. Later on, these centers will help the soul to perceive higher knowledge. And if these centers become cramped by the annoyance of the guardians, then the infant has lost that faculty by which it should grow and profit in life. The infant will understand; one must have patience. One should repeat, 'You must not break it', every time he breaks something. Let him break ten times, and every time just say, 'You must not break it'; that helps.

Regarding the bad nature of an infant, sometimes it shows stubbornness and obstinacy even to the extent that one feels annoyed and begins to scold it. But that is not right. Scolding has a bad effect on the nerves of an infant. And once a bad effect has been made on the nerves of an infant there will be a mark of annoyance on the nerves all through its life. The best thing at such moments is to call the attention of the infant repeatedly to something that will take away that thought, and we must never tire of doing it. It is this which will make it come back to a proper rhythm.

There are two principal temperaments in infants: active and passive. There is an infant that is quite happy in the place where it is put, quite contented, enjoying itself; it cries only when it is hungry. And there is another infant who is always doing something; either it must cry or break, or tear something; it must do something all the time. The best thing is to bring the infant back to a normal rhythm. An active infant must be quieted by the influence of the guardian; by attracting its mind to a certain thing, by beating time and getting it into a certain rhythm. Infancy is the time when the impulsive nature can be trained, and that is the time to draw out what is really best in the impulsive nature and utilize the impulsive nature to its best advantage.

When an infant is quiet, contented, passive, happy-natured, one must not be contented about it, because it may not prove to be good in the end. The infant should be made a little more active. A little more attention must be given to it, a few more playthings, a little more thought must be given. It should be stimulated, it should be picked up and its attention attracted to this or that, so that it may become more active and more interested in the things it sees; that will bring about a proper balance.

checked 18-Oct-2005