Authenticity

By Dada Pranakrsnananda


“Suppose your boss arrives; you will welcome him and say, “Please come, sit down and have something to eat.” You flatter him but inside you say, “What a trouble has arrived! When will he go?” This is not known to your boss. Thus, two “I’s” are within you; one performs action in the external world, and the other is inside. You are well-acquainted with this inner “I”, but others do not have the correct information about it. Spiritual practice (meditation), therefore, is to unify the two, the internal “I” and the external “I”, into one.”
                                                                                          Shrii Shrii Anandamurti


I give you this quotation as my definition of the word authenticity, to unify the two into one.

As a child I remember how I used to sense that some inner voice was guiding me to act. It was not only about what was “right” or “wrong”, but also whether I should study or not, play or not, meet this friend or that friend, etc. I discovered that whenever I followed the advice of that inner voice, all went well. When I did not, life was messy. Sometimes there would be a conflict between what my inner voice told me to do and what the external society told me to do. Sometimes I had to go away somewhere to gain the strength to follow my inner voice so I could stand up to the challenges of social demands. I found that meditation was similar to that time away, gaining strength, although more powerfully.

Was I an unusual child? Do all children have this experience? I think it is the duty of every teacher to find out. Every presenter has to know his or her audience. Our children are our audience. If the teacher is going to be effective, then he or she has to know the children. Discovering where the children are physically, mentally, morally, socially and spiritually and then guiding them to their next level of development is the work of teaching.

I was a child, a small person in a big person’s world. Sometimes the force of the big people was so powerful that I felt overwhelmed. How could I follow my own inner voice surrounded by the voices of big people? Being new to the planet I depended on the big people to take care of me, to protect me from harm and to explain what’s going on here. I remember wondering, “What are these big people trying to do? Why do the big people want me to do these things?” I must say that until I reached high school I wasn’t really sure what all these big people were talking about. So I eventually went away to college so I could hear my own inner voice and try to follow it. There I learned that I needed to find a harmony between my external teachers, elders, guides and my internal voice. My inner inspiration needed boundaries to express myself outwardly.

As a teacher, how do I help my children cultivate their inner voice? How do I give them the space to be with their inner voice and discover who they are, what they want to do and how they want to do it?

Now I am one of those big people. I am a teacher and I meet young people all the time. I want to share my self with them. Am I able to remember how I felt at their age? If I am going to be an effective teacher, I need to understand their thoughts and emotions. I certainly do not want them to be overwhelmed by me. I want to help them become aware of their power, not dominate them with my power. I want to welcome them into this strange new world, to give them a sense of belonging, to be with us here on this planet. I want to give my legacy to them so that they can build on it.

Belonging is a very powerful need. Sometimes the need to belong can even overpower conscience. Internally I may know what is best for me to do, however I may go against my inner knowledge so that I can be accepted, especially if I do not have the strength to be who I want to be. Every child wants to be somebody and also wants to belong to the group. How can I as a teacher help these children fulfill that desire? As a teacher, how do I help children find the connection between their inner “I” and the outer “I”.

We perform physical exercises to develop our bodies. We do mathematics and science to develop our intellect. We study art and literature to develop our emotional bodies. Meditation develops our intuition. As a teacher I would not neglect any of these disciplines. I want to develop the whole child. I want to give the child the tools to be authentic.