There was an anti-cigarette advertisement in India when we were growing up. It said: “Action for satisfaction – Scissors. Smoke the cigarette and you will be satisfied.” What they were really saying was: “Scissors – it will cut your lungs from the inside.” But people did not get it – generations of people smoked. Today, someone else is advertising about how you will be joyful for the rest of your life if you buy this one car. You can smoke a cigarette or you can buy a car, but smokers do not look joyful nor do drivers. Just look at people on the street. Are all those people who are driving their dream cars bursting with joy? No, they are not.
I want you to look at something fundamental. Did you find a job or start a business or decide to go after something in search of happiness? Did you get married or have children in pursuit of happiness? Or did you find happiness within yourself and do all these things as an expression of your joy?
It is important that you understand you have been looking for an oasis of satisfaction and happiness all your life. But there is no oasis; it is just a mirage. It looks like something is going to satisfy everything, but when you get there, it does not work. But now you want your child to find inner joy. How will this happen?
You think there is an oasis somewhere. Many times, it looks like that, but there is no oasis outside. If you were to ever deceive yourself into believing there is an oasis of happiness, love or joy somewhere, you will be deeply disappointed, because all human experiences are generated from within. There is no such thing as “internal happiness.” Happiness has always been internal; not only happiness, but even misery has also been only internal. Though poets have said “love is in the air” — that is also always internal. Everything you experience is internal. It is up to you what kind of experience you generate.
If you do not stop running after some mirage of an oasis, naturally your children will also look for a similar oasis which does not exist. It is you who has given them this idea that everything of value for a human being is somewhere outside in the society – in the money, wealth, status or the symbols that you gather. Most parents are only interested in their children being a little better than their neighbour’s children. “How many marks did you get? How much money did you earn? What is your social status?” – this seems to be the concern for most parents.
Everyone wants to guide children because they think the children are the problem. No, children are not the problem. If they look like a serious problem, you need to have a close look at yourself because they are just a prototype of you. Your children are a miniature problem; the larger problem is you.
If you are genuinely interested in making your children wonderful, if you want to bring up your child well, the first thing is you should be happy. You have to show it to them by example, not by your teaching. If adults transform themselves, they do not have to worry about children. But if you, by yourself, do not know how to be happy, you are definitely not qualified to teach them how to be happy.
Qualification is not in some learning; it is just this simple realisation that human experience can only happen from within – be it joy or misery, fulfillment or disgruntlement. If you know this one thing absolutely, you can do whatever you want. As long as you know that it is caused by you, no one else but you, then what you want to cause to yourself is up to you. Your children should also know it is their responsibility to cause what they want to themselves.
First, transform yourself. If you are living an exuberant life, then you will see that there is very little work to be done with your children. They will grow up well.