Chapter 23: Trees Grow without Being Taught
So it is not going to be a simple answer from me. You will have to figure it out living with your children moment to moment, allowing them every possible freedom.
For example, in small things:
In my childhood, and it has been the same for centuries, the children are being taught: “Go to bed early, and get up early in the morning. That makes you wise.”
I told my father, “It seems to be strange: when I am not feeling sleepy, you force me to sleep early in the evening.” And in Jaina houses early in the evening is really early because supper is at five o’clock, at the most six. And then there is nothing else to do - the children should go to sleep.
I said to him, “When my energy is not ready to go to sleep, you force me to go to sleep. And when, in the morning, I am feeling sleepy, you drag me out of the bed. This seems to be a strange way of making me wise! And I don’t see the connection - how am I going to become wise by being forced to sleep when I am not feeling sleepy? For hours I lie down in the bed, in the darkness.time which would have in some way been used, would have been creative, and you force me to sleep. But sleep is not something in your hands. You cannot just close your eyes and go to sleep. Sleep comes when it comes; it does not follow your order or my order, so for hours I am wasting my time.
“And then in the morning when I am really feeling sleepy, you force me to wake up - five o’clock, early in the morning - and you drag me out for a morning walk towards the forest. I am feeling sleepy and you are dragging me. I don’t see how all this is going to make me wise. You please explain it to me!
“And how many people have become wise through this process? You just show me a few wise people - I don’t see anybody around. And I have been talking to my grandfather, and he said that it is all nonsense. Out of the whole household, that old man is the only sincere man. He does not care what others will say, but he has told me that it is all nonsense: ‘Wisdom does not come by going early to bed. I have been going early to bed my whole life - seventy years - and wisdom has not come yet, and I don’t think it is going to come! Now it is time for death to come, not for wisdom. So don’t be befooled by these proverbs.’”
I told my father, “You think it over, and please be authentic and true. Give me this much freedom - that I can go to sleep when I feel sleep is coming, and I can get up when I feel that it is time, and sleep is no longer there.”
He thought for one day, and the next day he said, “Okay, perhaps you are right. You do it according to yourself. Listen to your body rather than listening to me.”