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Child Education and Swami Kriyananda

Will Durant, writing of child education in the Cosmopolitan, said,

He learns by imitation, though his parents think he learns by sermons. They teach him gentleness, and beat him; they teach him mildness of speech and shout at him; they teach him a Stoic apathy to finance, and quarrel before him about the division of their income; they teach him honesty, and answer his most profound questions with lies. [East West, March-April, 1928, Vol. 3-3]

Nayaswami (new-swami) Kriyananda (1926–2013), also known as James Donald Walters, was the author of eighty books in the fields of education, human relationships, and more. He had many good sides. In his book Education for Life (2001), he offers parents and educators advice for transforming education into an integral process (cf. Chap. 21).

You may ask, "What did a monk know about child rearing?"

Swami Kriyananda was greatly inspired by the yogi Paramahansa Yogananda and became a minister of the guru's Self-Realization Fellowship, SRF. Yogananda put Walters in charge of the monks of the Self-Realization monastic order, asked him to write articles for the SRF magazine, and had him lecturing in Southern California. After Yogananda's death, Kriyananda became SRF's vice-president in 1960, and remained so until the SRF Board of Managers asked him to leave SRF in 1962.

After recovering somehow from that, he founded Ananda Village as a World Brotherhood Colony in 1968 on 40 acres of land near Nevada City, California. The community has grown since. Serving it, Kriyananda developed a system for educating children called "Education for Life".

Kriyananda married in 1981, and publicly renounced his monastic vows on the occasion of his second marriage in 1985. He later divorced, and in 1995 officially resumed his monastic vows and title.

In 2006, Swami Kriyananda was nominated and accepted as a Creative Member of the Club of Budapest because of his service to the spiritual future of humanity, and in August, 2007, he was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the National InterFaith Council at the Wadsworth Theater in Los Angeles.

Swami Kriyananda had a very eventful life and prolific life - with scandals and ballyhoo included. (WP, "Swami Kriyananda")

How Useful are Sermons?

Warming up

Before I got married I had six theories about bringing up children; now I have six children and no theories. [Somehow attributed to the Earl of Rochester, 1647–80]

It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. [Aristotle]

We are students of words: we are shut up in schools, and colleges, and recitation-rooms, for ten or fifteen years, and come out at last with a bag of wind, a memory of words, and do not know a thing. [Ralph Waldo Emerson]

If a man is a fool, you don't train him out of being a fool by sending him to university. You merely turn him into a trained fool, ten times more dangerous. [Desmond Bagley]

Despise school and remain a fool. [German proverb]

Education has become one of the chief obstacles to intelligence and freedom of thought. [Sir Bertrand Russell]

Why should society feel responsible only for the education of children, and not for the education of all adults of every age? [Erich Fromm]

Education is a better safeguard of liberty than a standing army. [Edward Everett]

What does education often do? It makes a straight-cut ditch of a free, meandering brook. [Henry David Thoreau]

What if man were required to educate his children without the help of talking animals. [Robert Brault]

A little on Waldorf Education

The quotations suggest there are different opinions on education and different avenues too. It is because there are different sorts of education; different sorts of teachings; different people and different curriculums (books to read). [A synthesis]

The words 'compulsory education' mask that some sort of education is forced on the pupils. Being forced to learn instead of learning with interest, is not good. Results may be forthcoming, but they are told be far less than fit for men and women. It is much like forcing plants to flower without much concern for the ideas that development is rooted in what comes from inside, and depends on readiness and much else. The conditions are to be right for a plant to set flowers and seeds in time too.

The Waldorf Education movement seeks to embody these principles. Its originator, Dr Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925) may have much to teach parents and teachers in Kindergartens and schools. As for Kindergardens, he said the best for children to be taught at home until they are about seven. However, if the conditions are difficult or strained, maybe a Steiner Kindergarden may be good, depending on how well it is run. At home, parents are - at least ideally - fit persons for small children to imitate and learn from. The principles of Steiner Kindergartens and schools are summed up in several books. Books for parents are not as many, but Barbara Patterson and Pamela Bradley has written an "absolutely wonderful and beautiful" book, to quote a book reviewer. The book: Beyond the Rainbow Bridge: Nurturing Our Children from Birth to Seven (2000).

Home schooling may be fit

Home schooling is a movement to learn a lot from as well, such as having more control over main conditions to favour one's little ones as long as it lasts. It may be an alternative to menial conditions in public schools. On academic tests, homeschoolers typically outperform children who have got a public education. Homeschooling yields better grades in average and may cost a tenth of public schooling. Much apart from good money may be wasted through public schooling. [Home schooling is advocated][Study the facts]

Three basics

It could, further, be fit for good guys to ignite the first few links in a so-called chain reaction of interests that lead to learning. These are the basics: Learning is the main aim, interests fuels it, as does calm study without great pressures. The term "being in the flow" suggests that sort of interest-glowing learning. (Gross 1999)

Gatto scares

School . . . in fact it destroys communities. - John Gatto (1992:14)

More money and more people pumped into this sick institution [the public school] will only make it sicker. John Gatto (1992:33) [More]

Scary in Other Keys

I am afraid that the schools will prove the very gates of hell . . . (Dr Martin Luther)

Kriyananda's alternative society Ananda and its ideals, have a world view that is heavily influenced by Yogananda - a guru who prophecied "Europe will be devastated, Russia, annihilated. Japan will be conquered by China. America will survive. England is finished. Finished. Finished! (2011:125-26) It was told to take place before year 2000 CE (Kriyananda 1974, ch 6, mainly)

Many failed prophecies reveal a false prophet. Biblical teaching: "Get rid of him!" It is in the Law that Jesus vouches for in Mattew 5:17-19. The alternative to staying away from a cult or group that worships a false prophet is to get duped and made use of thereby, which is no gain. A duped person may get harmed mentally also.

If you enter an alternative college you may be influenced there. If the college is inspired by a false prophet that is regularly worshipped in it, alas. It does not accord with the Bible on how to deal with false prophets, and could equal "being misled, led astray." [Good news and bad news: Yogananda prophecies]

Instead, learn to consider.

Yogananda Don't take my word for anything. - Yogananda (in Dietz 1998, "Master's Teachings").

You might wish the false prophet had been good enough to tell that in advance.

Make Proficient Use of Good Insights If You Can

You may benefit from some points from the ranks of Yogananda if you have been liberated from those ranks and other unsavoury influences. As the guru aptly put it himself: "Don't take my word for anything." Much fails the one who fails to heed that extremely relevant fragment of his teachings well enough. You may want to see the phrase it its setting, although it rides far above its original setting. Anyway, the source is given.

If you don't apply salient points of a decent sermon or lecture, or a quip, or proverb, it may not do much good. [Tips for sermonising and lecturing well]

One way to draw benefits from sayings is to meditate on selected phrases to your ability. [Lojong is for that]

It is not good enough to throw out the baby (good points) with the dirty water. Better ferret out salient, decent points to make use of, and sort them to create less havoc, and perhaps make many, many times more sense of the points than when they are considered and made use of singly, and not in a coherent "package". [Try]

When reading great-looking statements, it is good to keep plenty of mental reserve. See the "Reservations" on top of the page for how to develop more critical, rational skills by qualifications, and "disclaimer" at bottom too, as you like. Sound and helpful qualifications are subsumed below. And as for the rest of such table-essays, it tends to pay to get a grasp of some main, multiple drift of things in it, for example by reading the summary first, as part of the good study strategy.

Here is how to use our table-essay to your best advantage:

  1. Select a point or three that suit you nicely from each of the three steps (1, 2 and 3) below. Try to fuse each bundle from the three states, if you are up to it.
  2. The three selected (bundles of) items form a stepwise fare. The first bundle of items speak of the main ideas that go into it. The second is for grounding, and the third is for application. It is a "tick-tack-toe" or triple-step thing.
  3. Now refine and seek to apply, using your common sense, risking next to nothing, and adjust too.

There you have it. It is time for examples. You may note in passing that the table-essay below allows for many hundred solutions of the kind described right above - so many different solutions that it is hard to count them. At the lowest level (of single quotations) there are 20 x 11 x 27 = 5040 takes, in theory. But if you fuse and blend a few points from each stage above, you get many times more takes, for example 20 000 ideas of education if you should need them all.

When you have 20 000 great-looking ideas to implement, you may soon get the idea that "life is too short". Besides, 20 000 three-steps-ideas, each of, say 5 lines, make up a book of 100 000 lines in itself - roughly, a work of 500 pages or a three-volumed work at most. Better simplify things, and make do with one good book instead, if you won't learn the art of putting the table-essays to good use.

This is to say there can be much information embedded in a table essay, and many possible outcomes, depending on selections and so on. Touches of humans are vital too.

Why the "Get Tao" essays (friezes, table essays) are thought highly of. Reminder:

  1. Select three points, one from each stage (1, 2, and 3), in that order. Drop many of the points that you cannot relate to personally. (People are different, have different conditions, etc.)
  2. Polish the result to your ability, to get something savoury throughout.
  3. Apply it too, and check well as you venture on. Monitoring feedback may be helpful and valuable.

Now for examples on how to use them. I just take the third point under each of the three headings:

1. Jim Corbett was lying in a tree on a platform when he saw a grown Bengal tiger stalk a kid goat. At some point during the tiger's advance the kid heard him and turned around. Observing this unknown but enormous creature, it tottered over trustingly and began to sniff at him with curiosity. The tiger rose from his crouch and allowed the kid to sniff at him a few moments longer. Then, with great dignity, he turned away and walked off into the jungle. [Don't read too much into this tale, though.]

2. Much of popular modern music works directly contrary to any serious attempt to help children in their development towards maturity.

3. All students are not . . . equally sensitive, creative, receptive, energetic, willing, or, in fact, equally anything . . . Can we point, then, to progressive levels of development in these capabilities? In the case of intelligence, such a progression is more or less discernible. But what is needed also is a general criterion that will be helpful in developing all aspects of a child's nature.

That is what Kriyananda says. Now find key points of each, and fuse those keys as well as you can.

A bit of trusting innocence makes a stalking enemy go away at times, but most often not.
+ Develop maturity through music; even popular music may work
+ Students differ and are differently developed -

"Innocent trust in and fascination for musicians makes them go away - on world tours and the like - leaving others time to develop their tastes afterwards." (Joking)

Your may trust that fascination with some forms of music reflects id (libido) played on, and that if such libido is given good chances, may develop maturer tastes in time. (Seriously)

Don't trust naïvely that all kinds of music will help your development. (Another)

Here you have a few ideas to implement. Some forms of music have what it takes to follow us from teens to the grave, though. There is a reservation there.

Now you try. See if you can make 300 guidelines on top of the following extracts and quotations, for example. It is feasible. Help yourself.


LoAllow Reality to be practical, and with great dignity in some way

One method for developing clear reasoning is the deliberate, though playful, practice of sophistry [Sophism: an argument apparently correct in form but actually invalid. Sophistry: subtly deceptive reasoning or argumentation]. [Ch 19]

What is the alternative? If we rely on logic alone, we find ourselves entangled in so many strands of possibility that it becomes almost impossible to move. [Ch 19]

Jim Corbett was lying in a tree on a platform when he saw a grown Bengal tiger stalk a kid goat. At some point during the tiger's advance the kid heard him and turned around. Observing this unknown but enormous creature, it tottered over trustingly and began to sniff at him with curiosity. The tiger rose from his crouch and allowed the kid to sniff at him a few moments longer. Then, with great dignity, he turned away and walked off into the jungle. [Don't read too much into this tale, though.] [Ch 15]

Teachers may devise tests of a child's reactions to challenges. For instance, how readily does a child share his enjoyments with others? [Ch 11]

I have known many highly intelligent people who pride themselves on the range and subtlety of their self-understanding, but who never take the first step toward actual self-betterment. [Ch 9]

Show enough concern to let him or her know that you understand and empathize. [Ch 17]

By right behaviour, a person (a child, in this case) will avoid pain to himself; even more important, he will increase his own measure of happiness. [Let us hope that, for it is not that simple either. - TK] [Ch 7]

Maturity is not a finishing line reached automatically at a certain age. It is a continuous—even a never-ending—process. Who, indeed, may claim that there are no levels of reality to which he still needs to learn to relate? [Ch 4]

Compassion has helped to evolve a system that is not dogmatic . . . but . . . practical. [Ch 21]

How different the great scientist . . . from the average pedagogue, who represents the scientist's discoveries in the classroom! More or less forgotten, by the time the scientist's life and findings are included in textbooks, is his enthusiasm, his total commitment to his subject. [Ch 3]

Certain contrasts might be considered also. Is the child's nature expansive or contractive? outgoing or withdrawn? positive or negative? constructive or destructive? imaginative or literal-minded? creative or imitative? aggressive or passive? assertive or submissive? - [Ch 10]

Business colleges fill their students' brains with marketing techniques, organizational charts, and secrets . . . How is it, the graduates wonder later on, that so few of them make the grade?

Even more incomprehensible to them is the large number of highly successful business people whose training couldn't compare with their own. [Ch 14]

Why, then, don't our schools teach students not only how to be successful materially, but successful also as people?" [Ch 1]

Great men and women, whether scientists or artists or leaders of any kind, are great in some way, at least, as human beings. [Ch 5]

A recent survey of professors found that the majority preferred wordy, intellectually intricate and abstruse articles on subjects in their own fields over articles that made the same points, but in a style that was simple and easy to read. [Ch 2]

A delightfully stuffy book of guidelines that I was once shown for the English-speaking tourist in Germany included this helpful sentence: "Stop, barber, you have put the brush in my mouth!" [Ch 8] (2)

It may also be possible to help him see that he never hates qualities in others if there isn't at least a suggestion of that quality in himself. [Ch 17]

A battle was fought during the middle ages by Swiss peasants against their aristocratic overlords. What the peasants did was flood the battlefield on the eve of battle with water from a nearby river. The water froze overnight. When the oppressors sallied forth on the following morning, the horses slipped and fell all over the ice. The peasants came to battle shod for walking on ice, and dispatched the lot of them with ease . . . Why not be selective, then, with an eye also to the students' actual needs? [Ch 8: "Humanizing the Process", extract.]

Nature will provide the teacher with endless opportunities for expanding children's awareness. [Ch 16]

LoSuggest dances that work well at the moment and later, in the culture the child grows up.

Discrimination is impossible without humility, for it demands an understanding that truth exists. [Ch 19] (3)

The tongue should be trained . . . to enjoy wholesome food, and to speak kind words . . . The imagination should be trained also. [Ch 17]

Much of popular modern music works directly contrary to any serious attempt to help children in their development towards maturity. [Ch 16]

[Famous violinist's remark:] "If I had listened to my mother, I would never have become Fritz Kreisler." - Quoted [Ch 20]

Every mental attitude has its counterpart in physical positions and gestures. [Ch 17] (4)

An important point to remember, I think, is not to suggest dances that the child might come to ridicule later on in life. For by such ridicule a prejudice might develop around the whole system. [Ch 16]

Too much mental recognition, and the intellectual conceptualization that such recognition entails, may actually rob people of the energy they need for practical action. [Ch 17]

A young man was aggressively atheistic. I offered him and a few others rides to their various destinations. A sixteen-year-old girl in the car made the statement, apropos of nothing, "I don't believe in love."

After I'd let her off at her home, the self-styled atheist turned to me in amazement. "Can you imagine that?" he exclaimed: "Not believing in love!" [Ch 17]

Sartre was . . . a nihilist. He accepted no established human norms. And he was not joking . . . One wonders: Why have these nihilistic teachings been given so solemn a hearing in the classrooms? [Ch 5]

Paramhansa Yogananda . . . discovered that two of his students were bitter enemies. . . . He then had them share the same bed. After some weeks, Yogananda tiptoed silently to the head of their bed as they slept, reached down cautiously and rapped one of them on the forehead, immediately withdrawing his arm.

The boy rose up wrathfully and accused his bedmate of breaking the peace.

Both settled back to sleep. After a few minutes, when they were sleeping soundly again, Yogananda rapped the other boy on the forehead.

They were on the point of blows when, looking up, they beheld their school principal smiling down at them.

"Oh," they exclaimed. "You!" [Ch 9, an extract.]

LoSimply level with those that heed you, and maturity is wont to set in

Proper training during the first . . . years, and proper reference, later, to the values learned during those years, will be a great aid [for] development toward maturity. [Ch 15] (5)

Far better . . . would be another kind of encounter group altogether: one in which the students offered one another suggestions in true charity [and] for strengthening their positive qualities. [Ch 19]

All students are not . . . equally sensitive, creative, receptive, energetic, willing, or, in fact, equally anything . . . Can we point, then, to progressive levels of development in these capabilities? In the case of intelligence, such a progression is more or less discernible. But what is needed also is a general criterion that will be helpful in developing all aspects of a child's nature. [Ch 10]

"Spare the rod and spoil the child." We have simply to accept that Life itself applies this truth. [Ch 6]

There is much to be gained from learning to approach any new subject as it were from within — from its core. [Ch 8]

Great scientists demonstrate greatness also in their ability to rise above petty self-preoccupation and reach out toward broader realities. [Ch 5]

Maturity means, among other things, a state of inner equilibrium. [Ch 22]

Affirmations should become . . . an important part of the child's daily routine. [Ch 17] (6) ✪ 

A visit to Ananda schools would be an obvious way to begin the process. First-hand observation is always more instructive than hearsay.

There is also another possibility, that of inviting advisors . . . to give classes and seminars. [Cf. Efl 22]

The first six years of a child's life are taken up primarily with the development of physical awareness. [Ch 15]

All who have ever tried to mould truth to their own liking have failed. [Ch 19]

Exercise should be approached in the manner of a long distance runner . . . the physical body may have to serve its owner for another seventy, eighty, or more years. [Ch 14]

A child with a naturally strong will may show willfulness in the very cradle. [Ch 18]

The purpose of schooling is to pass on to students what has been learned already in the great school of life . . . A good start in the schools, then, would be to include among the subjects covered in the classroom an intelligent study of these findings.

The need, moreover, is to approach these findings with the same objectivity that true science has shown — not cold, intellectual objectivity, merely, but the objectivity also of calm feeling. [Ch 3]

We see here a basic weakness of modern education: It is theoretical, primarily. [Ch 2]

What is dismaying is the widespread assumption that, if one can only train oneself to adopt a completely scientific outlook, he will rise altogether above human feeling, and that, in his cold objectivity, he will achieve superior understanding—as though, in that unfeeling state, he could become some kind of intellectual superman. [Ch 3]

Ignored is the fact that, usually, the greater the scientist, the more deeply he feels his subject. [Ch 14]

An inclination that is present in everyone, including children, not only to cling to what they already know, but also to enlarge their horizons, if only gradually and by small increments. [Ch 7] (7)

I remember my father once giving my brother and me a spanking for something we'd done wrong. Well, wrong in his adult eyes, but not in ours. As we boys saw it, we'd only been helping to beautify the bathroom with large stars that we'd scratched with a screwdriver into the newly painted walls. [Ch 10]

A likely explanation for the attention presently being given to this and to similarly faddish philosophies is that they offer no call to serious action. [Ch 5]

One of the dogmas of modern thought, presented with smug self-satisfaction in the university classrooms as a sign of the teacher's "objectivity," is the belief, supposedly drawn from science, that life has no meaning. [Ch 4]

However full a student's head is crammed with book learning, his understanding of things, and of life in general, after twelve or sixteen years of education, is completely unrelated to actual experience. [Ch 2]

"A nation is known by the men and women it looks up to as great." - Quoting S. Radhakrishnan, former president of India. [Ch 3]

At twelve years, or thereabouts—that is, with the onset of puberty—the ego begins to assert itself more forcefully. [Ch 15]

I heard a popular writer once address a large audience with the statement, "I don't know what I'm doing up here [on the platform]. You all should be up here teaching me! And I should be down there, listening to you."

"Come off it!" I thought. "If you really mean what you're saying, why don't you just get down here . . .?" He was posturing, merely . . . For one thing, he was being paid to speak. [Ch 4] (8)

Teachers talk long and patiently about the need for objectivity. But is it objectivity their pupils actually acquire in the process? They are taught to sneer at subjectivity as a mark of bias and emotionalism. [Ch 4]


  1. Allow a practical enough Reality with great dignity in some way.
  2. Suggest dances and play that work well at the moment and later, in the culture the child grows up, and that have something to give.
  3. Simply level with those who heed you somehow, and maturity is wont to set in.

IN NUCE Reality dances to those who heed it.

Further Information: Kriyananda is a Direct Disciple of Yogananda

The "pristine" message of Yogananda was of Self-Experience, Self-Realization. To accommodate to Westerners and spread his message and methods better, he learnt to accommodate, and the word "God" became very frequent in time, replacing the "Self" concept much, alas.

TIP: "Where they speak frequently or fervently of God, expect a rat hidden somewhere."


Kriyananda and others on education, Literature  

Dietz, Margaret Bowen. Thank You, Master. Nevada City, CA: Crystal Clarity, 1998, "Master's Teachings". Ehrman, Bart D. Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium. Paperback ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001.

Howard, Susan, ed. The Developing Child: The First Seven Years. Spring Valley, NY: Waldorf Early Childhood Association of North America, 2004.

Gatto, John. Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling. Philadelphia, PA: New Society, 1992.

Gross, Ronald. Peak Learning: A Master Course in Learning How to Learn. 2nd ed. New York: J. Tarcher/Putnam.

Kriyananda, Swami. Education for Life. Rev. ed. Nevada City: Living Wisdom, 2001.

Kriyananda, Swami. Paramhansa Yogananda: A Biography with Personal Reflections and Reminiscences. Nevada City, CA: Crystal Clarity, 2011.

Kriyananda, Swami, ed. The Road Ahead: World Prophecies by the Great Master, Paramahansa Yogananda. Nevada City, CA: Ananda Publications, 1973. ⍽▢⍽ Of course, it subtracts from "Great Master" when his prophesies fail totally. There should be no need to be an underling of that.

Nicol, Janni. Bringing the Steiner Waldorf Approach to your Early Years Practice. 2. utg. Abingdon, UK: Routledge, 2010.

Patterson, Barbara J., and Pamela Bradley. Beyond the Rainbow Bridge: Nurturing Our Children from Birth to Seven. Amesbury. MA: Michaelmas Press, 2000.

Steiner, Rudolf. The Kingdom of Childhood: Seven Lectures and Answers to Questions. Given in Torquay, August 12–20, 1924. Rev. translation. Hudson, NY: Anthroposophic Press, 1995.

Harvesting the hay

On many pages are simple markers, brackets and some symbols. What they stand for and how they are used for academic harvesting is shown on the page that the 'Gain-Ways link below will open.

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