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Volume III - The Art of Personality

Part I - Education

Chapter VI


Youth for every soul is the season of blossoming, and it can be divided into three stages: early youth, the middle part of youth and the last stage of youth.

There is a great difficulty in the training of youth, because in youth a child becomes less receptive. The child is passive and therefore easy to guide, but youth is the time of rising energy, both physical and mental. Therefore youth is expressive, and what is expressive cannot be receptive at the same time. Parents make a great mistake when they continue the same method with a youth which they applied in his childhood. There is the time of plowing, there is the time of sowing and there is the time of reaping the harvest. It is not all done at the same time.

In youth a child is most susceptible to influences, and at the same time most repellent of influences which fall beneath its standard. The child which has believed and obeyed its parents in its childhood does not necessarily believe and obey them during the time of its youth. The parents must realize this and change their manner of correcting and guiding the child from the beginning of its youth.

Youth makes the child inclined to look on its parents or guardians as old-fashioned people. The present education given in schools and the child's own experience of things around it support it in this idea. If the parents force their ideas on the youth, he first plays with them, making them think that he agrees with them. But in the next stage he avoids them. And in the third stage he argues with them and opposes them. Once a youth has arrived at this third stage he stands on his own feet, and there is little hope that the parents can guide him. They are then obliged to let him take his own way whether right or wrong.

Among a hundred youths one may take a right way by himself, and five out of the hundred may find their way through the dark, but ninety-five are lost owing to the absence of guidance. Life is a sea upon which it is difficult to find one's way, and as direction is necessary when traveling on the sea, so guidance is most necessary during the period of youth.

The principal thing one has to remember concerning the education of young people is to help them, without their knowing it, to think for themselves. The nature of youth, and especially that of the youth today, is such that as soon as he feels that he is directed by someone he feels that he is harnessed to a carriage, and in this he feels the absence of freedom. An essential thing in guiding the youth is to make lines of thought and to place them before him, in order that he may use the lines as a track to follow. True virtue comes from independent thinking, not from being under subjection. But at the same time it must be remembered that the independent spirit which is expressed without consideration is devoid of beauty. It is desirable that a youth should show consideration in his thought, speech and action, for freedom without consideration lacks beauty.

In the guidance of youth the same five directions of development must be considered as in the education of children: physical, mental, moral, social and spiritual.

While considering the physical development of a youth one should remember that youth is the time of full blossom. The most delicate and important time in everyone's life. If the blossom is ruined the fruit is lost. Therefore youth is the golden opportunity. It is the time when a person is not yet set in his ideas, not addicted to certain habits, ready to accept new ideas. An intellectual youth generally seeks for new ideas. Youth is a time when one is most inclined to changes of every sort, and therefore youth is not fixed in particular habits.

Very often the parents, not knowing what it involves when their child grows too rapidly, do not consider many things concerning its life which may harm it later. It is essential that special attention be given to the balance between activity and repose. To the sleep, food and recreation of the youth. In a child a nervous temperament is a sign of intelligence. A genius is generally nervous in his youth.

Youth is the time when, if the child is sensitive to conditions, every little thing around it will go to its heart. If there is a disharmony around a youth, if there is sorrow, disagreement among his people, depression, it all weighs upon him, at a time when he is capable of feeling and incapable of helping the situation. It is not fair to draw sympathy from the youth, and especially from the one who has a feeling heart, for one's pains and troubles. For there is a time for every experience and that time comes later. If pain is sown in the heart of the youth decay develops at her root of his life, making him bitter all through life.

Wise parents or guardians must know that youth is the springtime of every soul, the kingliness which is given once to every soul to experience. No soul may be debarred from nature's kingdom. It is the duty of parents and guardians to respect youth and take care that this springtime is given free to the youth, without burdening his life with the woes of worldly life which await every soul.

What is called youth in general terms is particularly the springtime of the physical body. And therefore if the child is physically well nourished and well drilled, so that he shows power and energy in every movement, it makes him fit for any sort of work that he may desire to learn, and for making his way in life. Seeing the youth enthusiastic and vigorous, the parents sometimes do not consider the fact that every burden, physical or mental, which might weigh him down is most injurious at this period of his life, although at a later age the same burden would not be so harmful. Youth being the time of full bloom, if the child does not show abundant energy and enthusiasm then at what other time will it do so? Therefore it is necessary that by physical exercise, proper rest, and good nourishment the youth is kept in perfect balance.

In youth an extra energy is born which expresses itself in passion and emotion. If the parents do not know how to deal with it the child can easily abuse it. There is no end of abuse of energy to be found in the world today in spite of all the attention that seems to be awakening in various educational centers. The idea is that it is no use watching a child, for this shows lack of trust; nor is it right to correct a child when it has gone too far in a certain playful tendency. There is no end of temptation which attracts a youth. It is natural for a youth who has just passed his period of playfulness to continue to play in the ways which to him seem harmless. An important part in the education of a youth is therefore to be told things plainly, and to be made aware of the advantages and disadvantages of various interests in life. It is not much use for a child to read books concerning the life of youth. Personal advice on the subject in question will prove to be more effective.

Very often, before the parents could ever imagine their child's inclination towards things of a serious nature, the child happens to have already experienced them, while being absolutely ignorant of the consequences. The younger generation seems to be declining every day in physical health, in enthusiasm, compared with the people of the past. So it is most necessary that in the present age special care should be taken to ensure that youth is trained to realize the great importance in life of good physical health, upon which depends happiness, prosperity and success.

Mental strength in youth depends upon single-mindedness, and youth is inclined to look in a thousand directions instead of keeping its mind fixed on one object at a time. A youth who is helped, or who is naturally inclined, to keep his mind in one single direction without wavering, is sure to have success in life.

Youth also has an inclination to be impatient, for it is the time when energy is working with great force, and this makes youth impulsive and lacking in patience. But if the child were taught patience when it is not already inclined to it by nature, it would surely succeed in all that it might undertake in life.

The time of youth has a certain influence on the life of the child, in that it makes its mind too active; and too much activity produces confusion in its life. Besides, the physical energy beating constantly through the pulse of the youth brings about difficulties in his life. Therefore guardians who are eager for his studies and progress should take care of the mind of the youth, which needs to be clear, poised and balanced. Without this the child is a trouble to his parents and a difficulty for himself. Youth with thought and consideration is like a flower with a beautiful color and fragrance.

The moral education of the youth is also of the greatest importance. A child must grow to recognize a father in every elderly man, a mother in every elderly woman, a sister in girls of his age and a brother in boys like himself. In this way the obligations of one soul to another in this world will be better understood. When a youth considers his duty only to someone closely related to him, and not to the others, he becomes limited. His point of view becomes narrowed. How much better the world would be if every young man considered it his duty to take care of and be responsible for every young girl as he would for his own sister. There would not be so much sorrow and disappointment. The greatest moral a youth could be taught is to understand his obligations to others, in order to fill his place fittingly in the scheme of life.

Youth should be taught to recognize the great power of honesty, instead of considering honesty only as a virtue. The child must be taught to make an ideal for itself and to live up to it. It is no use giving an ideal to a child, for the ideal of one person is not made for another.

A young man who realizes that his word engages his honor is an example for the present age when the word, even supported by twenty seals and stamps and a signature on a paper, does not hold good. A youth with this sense of honor and dignity. Whose heart is awakened to human sympathy, who has a keen sense of duty and who shows thought and consideration for others, is a model for the present generation in molding its personality.

Moral development does not consist only of acquiring an ideal and good manners, but also of the power to endure all the jarring influences that one meets in everyday life. Besides, the consciousness of one's obligations towards everyone that one meets in life as an elementary part of moral education. A youth can be without regard for delicacy of thought, but if his morality is developed he will act morally with greater ease than those who have learned morals later in life.

Life is nature, time makes it. Once a person becomes hardened in a certain way his soul becomes a mold of that particular nature, and all he says or does in life shows the design of this mold.

Very often it happens that a person arrives at the realization of the great value of moral qualities in the later part of his life, and yet cannot act according to the ideal he values most. It is just like an earthen pot which, having been put into the mold before it was properly finished, comes out of the fire hardened. The potter may want to change the shape of the pot, but it cannot be done anymore. If parents and guardians only realized what an opportunity the time of youth is in life, they would make out of youth what the Indians call the 'plant of wishes', which bears as its fruits all one's desires.

In youth there is hope, and there is an object to look forward to. In accomplishing this object a youth requires two powers: the power of will and the power of the beauty of thought, speech and action. Many people in this world, with all their power, physical, mental and every other form of power, even with an army at their disposal, prove helpless through the lack of beauty, the power of which is sometimes greater than any other. It is the balance of will and beauty that results in wisdom. And in a youth these three qualities form a trinity, which is the ideal of perfection.


Youth is naturally inclined to be sociable. If it is not so it means something is wrong, for it is most desirable for a youth to make friends and show reciprocity in friendship, in love or in courtship, and to show courtesy, kindness and goodwill. Joining youth associations, looking after one's friends and relatives, giving them welcome and warmth, is something that is expected of the youth. There is, however, always a danger for the youth who is sociable and mixes freely in all circles whether desirable or undesirable. Youth is to some extent a time of blindness, when the passions and emotions are in full play. It is just as easy for a youth to take a wrong direction, as it is to take the right direction. And a growing youth, full of enthusiasm, overcome with emotion, and eager to experience anything new and interesting, may take any road opened to him by his friends. Therefore it is the duty of the guardians to keep him away from all undesirable influences, without giving the slightest idea that they control him and his affairs or deprive him of his freedom.

The higher the ideal of the youth, the greater the future for him. A youth who is led to work for friends of his age, for his associations, for his community, for the nation, is indeed on the right road.

The youth who avoids the friendship of his own sex, or the one who is not attracted by the opposite sex, is abnormal, and either of the cases should be taken as a disorder and should be treated in its early stages. If it is allowed to go on it results in great disappointment. The youth who is disinclined to associate with his own sex is as a rule a timid nature and weak in will power. It is sometimes caused by feebleness of body and sometimes by having been brought up with extra love, care and tenderness at the hands of women alone. Therefore the life of a boy should begin with having boys as companions. In this way he receives from others the nature which is necessary for him.

It is one thing to be born male. It is another thing to develop a male personality. It is not sufficient to be born male. A male personality must be developed. It can be developed in youth, but if this time is missed, then it is almost too late, although no doubt a youth of such an abnormal nature can still be placed in surroundings from which in time he may receive the impressions he needs to complete his male personality.

A youth who responds to joy and to sorrow and to those near and dear to him, who echoes every impulse, who is interested in everything desirable and who is alive to all pleasure and joy, is a normal youth. If he is guided rightly he will make his life worth living.

The same tendencies may be observed in girls. A girl who is not brought up with other girls develops a character which is not feminine. The consequences are she is repulsive to her own sex and unattractive to the opposite sex. When in youth a girl begins to show male traits in her personality, she should by every means be placed in female surroundings, which in time may so impress her spirit that her personality partakes of the qualities that are necessary to complete her female personality.

There are also youths who are strongly attracted to their own sex and away from the opposite sex. Amongst them some are physically and some mentally abnormal. But there are some in whom the desire for the opposite sex is still asleep, and it needs awakening. Very often in the cases of the latter kind difficulties arise. People blame them for something which is not their fault. For people not knowing the truth expect them to be as responsive to the opposite sex as everybody else. And when they do not find them as they expect them to be, people become impatient with them. Many courtship's and marriages are destroyed by this lack of understanding. If one only knew the art of doing it one would wait and help gently and patiently, as if for the ripening of green fruit.

A youth with good manners and education yet without endurance, cannot make great progress in life, for he tends only to associate with those who come up to his standard. He will ignore or avoid those who fall beneath it. And as his sense of discernment becomes keener he will become more and more intolerant.

The downfall of modern civilization is caused by the lack of sincere sociability. There is a diplomatic form of politeness which is only politeness in form, without sincerity, but true politeness belongs to the one who is sympathetic. Sincerity is the principal thing in life.

Youth is the age which is most attracted to superficiality. That is the reason why many youths adopt an artificial manner of thought, speech and action, which is very undesirable and does not benefit their life.

It is important to inculcate sincerity in the character of the youth. To give a youth a love of sincerity is extremely useful, for the power of sincerity can work miracles. Also pride, a natural sprit which grows in a youth, must be molded into an ideal. The same pride which makes man stiff, stern and inconsiderate, if developed into what is called self-respect, will be the true sign of honor in life. For pride when guided into the right channels gives rise to consideration. Such a person becomes careful not to think, say or do what falls beneath his standard of virtue. Pride rightly directed molds the character, and it is the perfected character which culminates in an ideal.

The development of the spiritual side of the youth comes before anything else in life. Often spirituality is confused with religion. In reality, however, this word has quite a different meaning. Religion for many is that which they know to be their people's belief. Spirituality is the revealing of the divine light which is hidden in every soul. It has no concern with any particular religion. Whatever religion a person belongs to is no good to him if he has no spirituality. But if a man is spiritual, then whatever be his faith he will profit by it. Therefore, before thinking what religion the youth should belong to, one should train him in a spiritual ideal.

A youth of today, trained in the spirit of commercialism and with material motives put before him, can never grow up to become a really happy person who can impart his happiness to his fellow men. The greatest drawback of modern times is the bringing up of youth in an absolutely material atmosphere, so that he has nothing to look forward to beyond matter and material conditions, which are as poor as matter itself. No child comes on earth without a spiritual ideal, but it is the surroundings in which it lives, its guardians, its associates, that make the child materialistic. It cannot develop by itself when all the surroundings are different. In this way the spiritual ideal which the child brings on earth is strangled by material guardians and associates.

The world of today would have been much better than it is if there had been a spiritual ideal placed before it as well as a material ideal, which seems to be the only goal of the modern world. If one can learn from experience, the recent catastrophes have not been a small example of what the development of materialism can bring about. If the world goes on in the same manner, what will be the result? There is no hope for the betterment of humanity until the spiritual ideal has been brought forward and made the central theme of education both at home and in schools. This only can be the solution of the difficult problem of world reform that faces humanity.

How to begin the training of youth in spiritual ideals is not an easy problem to solve. For there are several dangers which have to be considered before beginning such a training with a youth. It is not necessary that the youth should be made a religious fanatic or religiously proud. He must not be made to think that his spiritual direction makes him superior to others. Goodness always gives a certain vanity, and an undeveloped spirituality brings a still greater vanity. If by spirituality a youth is made bigoted in his own faith, looking at the followers of every other faith with contempt, or with a sort of indifference, it cannot be right. How many religious souls there still are in this world who think their scripture is the only scripture, their church the only religion, and everyone else infidels! Such a faith can never produce spirituality in a soul.

Spirituality comes from the softening of the heart, which becomes frozen by the coldness of the surrounding life. The influence of worldly life upon the mind generally has a freezing effect. For selfishness coming from all sides naturally makes a man cool and selfish. Therefore it is the constant softening of the heart of the youth that is necessary. There are two ways of softening the heart: one is to help the youth to open himself to the beauty which is shining in all its various forms. The other is to give him a tendency to righteousness, which is the very essence of the soul. These things cannot be taught, but they can be awakened in the heart of the youth if the parents or the guardians only know how. The child must not be forced by principles, but love of virtue should be created in his heart, for in the inner nature of every soul there is love of virtue. Spirituality in the real sense of the word is the discovering of the spirit, which is attained by rising above self or by diving into self.

The greatest fault of the day is the absence of stillness. Stillness is nowadays often taken as leisureliness or as slowness. Modern man lacks concentration and carries with him an atmosphere of restlessness. With all his knowledge and progress he feels uncomfortable himself, and unintentionally brings discomfort to others. Stillness is therefore the most important lesson that can be taught to the youth of today.

Spirituality is like the water hidden in the depth of the earth. Hidden in the heart of man, this water which is spirituality must be, so to speak, dug out. This digging is done when one takes pains in awakening one's sympathy towards others, in harmonizing with others and in understanding others.

The outer knowledge of human life and nature is called philosophy, but the inner knowledge of these is called psychology. This knowledge can be studied. Yet the real spirit of this knowledge is manifested in the awakening of the soul. The youth must be given higher thoughts in order that he may think about a higher ideal, uphold a higher conception of life, gain a higher aspiration and carry through life a higher attitude, a higher point of view.

It is in the ennobling of the soul that spirituality lies, not in a mere show of spirituality. And nobleness of the soul is realized in the feeling of selflessness. Whatever be a man's rank or position, if he shows selflessness in life he is truly noble. The spiritual nobility is the real aristocracy, for it expresses itself in democracy. In a really spiritual person aristocracy and democracy are one, for these ideals, which both have their spiritual beauty, are summed up in the one spirit of nobleness. A youth must be taught that it is becoming angelic which shows spirituality. It is becoming human which is the true sign of the spiritual man.

checked 18-Oct-2005