(Excerpted from the book “The First Three Stages of Life”)
What is the most important, enduring gift that one can give a child? Asked this question, almost every parent, teacher, or friend of young people will say that they want to give children the ability to be happy. And they are right. There is nothing more important to give to any child—or, truly, to anyone, of any age. Real happiness, however, is a profound matter. True and lasting happiness stems not only from the feeling of being truly and intelligently alive in all the dimensions in which one exists, but even more fundamentally from the sense of being awake to the Truth Itself, from the sense of direct participation in the Transcendental Spiritual and Divine Mystery in which we all appear.
Since ancient times, it has been everywhere acknowledged that the deepest and purest human aspiration is to transcend the limitations of life and be restored to that sacred dimension, to the True Source or Divine Self of existence. However, it has not always been understood that this process and impulse is just as fundamental to children as it is for adults. Avatar Adi Da describes the core issue for children:
AVATAR ADI DA SAMRAJ: Children are involved in a Spiritual struggle, working out a Spiritual “problem”—at their own rudimentary, or early-life, stage of development. Therefore, children must learn to live from a Spiritual disposition, in the real manner that is possible for them at their stage of development. They must learn to live ecstatically, in devotional Communion with the Divine Mystery of existence.
Children can, and should, enjoy a feeling, breathing relationship with That Divine Mystery. They must learn to recognize the Happiness That is felt in relationship to the Divine Mystery, and they must understand that Such Happiness is, fundamentally, what existence is all about. Through that, they will acquire the strength for confronting the limitations of their circumstances. Children should be established in this positive awareness, and be practicing ecstasy, practicing ego-transcending Happiness. Therefore, you must give children the gift of a fundamental disposition of ego-transcending Happiness that is as native to them as feeling and breathing—a Happy understanding of the Mystery of life.
[The Scale of the Very Small]
Avatar Adi Da, 1977
with Love, Wisdom, and Happiness