1000 petals by axinia

the only truth I know is my own experience

Sufism on educating an Infant April 29, 2011

A highly insightful and interesting not only for parents read from Hazrat Inayat Khan.

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 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 his 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 soul’s 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.

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

 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 that 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 the 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.

 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 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.

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 the setting of the sun, and the waxing and the 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.
….read more about these  5 subjects here.


23 Responses to “Sufism on educating an Infant”

  1. Triveni Says:

    Wowww.. Really interesting.. I am going to share it with all my friends who are new momies like u.. 🙂
    And such an apt and beautiful picture too.. 🙂

  2. SIMPLY wonderful….dear Axinia can I translate this amazing post for the italian sahaj blog?..it’s so interesting….so full of wise advices!

  3. Eugene Says:

    Детей нужно не воспитывать, а любить и быть для ни хорошим примером 😉 . Очень, очень красивая фотография! Желаю Вам, Аксинья, и Вашей маленькой дочери мира, добра и любви.

  4. seeker2008 Says:

    Hey Axinia,

    Have you heard of Vera Corda? She was a student of Hazrat inayat Khan. In the 1960 she helped establish some schools for children based upon the teachings of Hazrat Inayat Khan. A chapter is devoted to her in a great book published by Camille Adams Helminksi called Women of Sufism.


  5. Elke Says:

    So full of wisdom! Thank you, Axinia!

  6. What about learning from a child what his real variable needs are, and trusting the own intuition instead of applying already some pseudo spiritual rules on him? Creating a pleasant environment for a child is a good attempt, pretending the development of his own neuronal system is only about impacting him with the own stereotypes, is neglecting the importance of the receptive interaction on both sides.
    Not to mention, how absurd it appears to me, that a man tells other men infantile but pretends to tell mothers how to behave.Instead of repeating old gender clichés, maybe it would matter to overcome them, instead of reaching them over to the next generation.
    I hope for the ability of spontaneity and creativity to change disastrous rigid society structures.Intelligence is supported by the trust in nature , not by any indoctrination . Limiting education to the ability to follow rules, is a danger for our future.

    • axinia Says:

      Well this sounds very good, however life pprves that this does not work. The generation of age about 30 are the ones who were brought up with such wonderful liberal ideas and what do we see? – the lost generation. Many young people of this age I in the West are completely immature, infantile and have no idea of what they are and what they want. This is not only my opoinion, there is also a film about it by some German…a really intresting phenomenon. Obviously children need some basement, not only complete freedom.

      • I agree..totally! and I’m 32!!

        • What do you agree with?
          I start to get annoyed of a certain reactionary attitude of some in that generation who are unwilling to take responsibility towards changing an abusive society structures and prefers to search shelter in certain escapist attitude blaming life to not provide more narcissistic satisfaction.
          This is not to blame on the spirit of mai 68, but on the disconnection of the middle class from the reality of life, lost in her own search for privileges falling apart.

          • AussieJules Says:

            pullleeeese – spare us your pre-fab lefty non-sense. You can wish away reality , human archetypes and gender differences all you want, it will change nothing. The Israeli kibbutzes tried communal rearing , ignoring gender etc. Turned out kids naturally turned to your hated stereotypes. Generally speaking, men and women are as different as cats and dogs. and anyone who does not realise this is setting himself up for stress and failure in relationships, work etc.
            You may give marxist feminism lip service, but your heart loves Tom Selleck, admit it !

  7. Obviously you seem to not understand the difference between laissez-faire and liberty of expression.
    What I observe is a generation confronted often with parents who have betrayed the spirit of freedom to fit in safety concepts they had inherited from their parents.
    If they had not joined the reactionary backlash to preserve their little petit bourgeois privileges, the children would be less pulled between liberal words and the deeper behaviour they experience.This is the paradox who is confusing.

    What I find immature is the search outside for structures who gives one some security, obviously some are missing inside.

    • axinia Says:

      Now i am curious if you have managed to bring up your children accorgin to this wonderful concept of liberty? And if yes, woudl be great if you could share some hints how exactly you have achieved that. Thanks in advance.

      • Maybe you might assume that some human on earth don’t consider liberty as a “concept”.

        • seeker2008 Says:

          I have been reading this exchange. I am curious about your answer as to weather you have children and if so, have raised them according to what you have espoused ?

          • I think that talking about my family (fine, thanks!)or even adding my experience helping people who as adult have experienced the limits of inner freedom their good education has meant to them, would make someone unwilling to question the own inability to trust freedom, to be introspective about the own attitude.
            Instead of questioning liberty who is a natural base of all development, I would ask you to question, what drives some to mistrust liberty.
            I consider as one of this many games the middle class likes to play, is to deviate from their own fears and greed for control,by engaging into
            competition of values instead of using the own capacity to think about
            the own behaviour and the own philosophical short-sightedness.I have
            learned to frustrate such aims to go back to the original topic some try to avoid.

            • I think about the ability of human to understand certain paths accordingly to their own mind structure.I know that some had been attracted to a kind of Sufism who would told them what to do or think, helping them to remain infantile.I was more in touch with a Sufism, who was shaking the conditionings and repetitive patterns in many ways.Those groups have not much in common and serve different expectations.The different results can be seen too.Some expect followers to remain attached to their teachings and environment pleasing the group promotion, some expect that people get strong enough to leave the community and go the own way . As you see, not the same aims!

            • axinia Says:

              Freedom is the basic need, right and highest value – who doubts about that? The only problem with it is now to really fulfill it in life. We cannot be intirely free from any impact and even our own choice in any question is influenced by various things, often subconsiously.
              Take your own example,I guess you concider yourself a very free person. But your comments – they are so typically French 🙂 I wonder if you aware of that? The backgroud`s influence of often so massive that we cannot even feel it…

              • What is so typically French in a humanist awareness?
                How much does Russian education trust free expression?

                Without the freedom to question life experiences, no awareness is possible.

                Don’t worry too much about my unconscious,
                I am free enough to recognise the difference between
                manipulation and argumentation.

  8. swaps Says:

    First look of the princess!!! So soft, so tender 🙂

  9. Indian Fakir Says:

    A nice post.

    In my experience however, a child educates the so called grown up rather the other way round, and the latter ought not miss the opportunity.

  10. Liliya Says:

    С большим опозданием, но с большой радостью присоединяюсь к наилучшим пожеланиям! Нет ничего прекраснее материнской улыбки…

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