Question: I am a high school teacher and wanted to ask for your advice about how not to make a mistake with children, how to inspire them. About fifty percent of the pupils in my class take Ritalin because they are being tagged as having ADD or ADHD. (Attention Deficit Disorder/Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder) What would your advice be?

W ith so many doctors and psychiatrics and all this, I don’t think a ‘normal’ child is born anymore. There are no 'normal' children because whatever they do, there is a label for them. If they are active, they are ‘hyperactive’ - ADHD. If they are a little slow, it is something else. Whichever way they are, one label is fixed, nailed to them, which they have to carry for the rest of their life. Someone can run fast, someone limps, someone does something else - this is all normal. This is how human beings are.  It is just that because we are trying to put all of them into one slot, they look abnormal.

It is like your traveling bag.  At the airport, they have this measuring device that your bag is supposed to fit into; otherwise some of the airlines don’t let you take it. Almost nobody’s bag fits into that; I am sure only the terror guys have come with the right-sized bag. But the normal passengers don’t fit their bags into it because when people travel they need things - they take this, they take that, they buy this, they buy that – it will be bulging and it won't fit. So all these are abnormal people.

Have you seen a perfect mango tree? Similarly, have you seen a perfect human being? Unless they are machine turned out, there is no question of whatever you call perfect. Our idea of perfection is so messed up. Our idea of perfection is we must be able to put everybody into the same hole, then they are perfect. Because we are trying to put everybody through the same kind of schooling, everybody should become a doctor, or an engineer, something – children are enduring this torture. Because of that, somebody looks like they have ADD or ADHD. Otherwise, every one of them is capable of doing something. Some may just be so happy, they may not do anything.

The education system is not going to change tomorrow, but at least you don’t have to label those who are with you right now.

You must see the deer in the forest. At around eight thirty, there will be bunches of deer here. Simply. They eat, romp around, they don’t work. The castrated bullock which is drawing the cart will look at them and say, ‘Those useless deer, they do nothing.’ What to do? Even the elephant does nothing. He doesn’t romp, he rampages through whatever he sees. But it is fine. That is how they should be. Unfortunately, we became industrialized societies - that means we need cogs in the wheels. We don’t need human beings anymore; we need some nut and bolt which fits into the system we have created. Well we are partially successful as we have quite a few nuts.

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Because of that, everybody looks abnormal.  Probably the fifty percent that you think are abnormal are probably normal human beings. The other fifty percent are machine turned out. I don’t want to make such a sweeping judgment but it is unfortunate that we are going this way. We are not thinking of living, we are thinking of productivity, so we are trying to produce machines which will produce more. Because of that, any machine that does not produce what you think it must produce suddenly looks abnormal. It is not necessary that all of us should be equally capable. Some can walk, some can crawl, some can fly, it is all right. Why are we setting this nonsensical idea that only if somebody is able to do this much, he is a normal human being? It is not necessary to set that. It is a crime to label a child as this or that because he has no clue what this stupid game is you are playing and already he is labeled, and he has to carry it for the rest of his life because you are comparing your child to your neighbor’s child.

The education system is not going to change tomorrow, but at least you don’t have to label those who are with you right now. It is all right that he cannot do what somebody else does. You do not know what he may do. I should tell you this. A few doctors came from the United States. They were in Mysore and without telling me they decided to visit my father. My father’s idea of success is you must become a doctor. His whole life’s dream was to be a doctor and he became one. And his dream was that all four of his children should become doctors. One by one, we failed him; I was the hopeless hope. When I was eleven, twelve years of age, I declared, ‘No way is that going to happen.’ So these doctors wanted to know something about their Guru when he was not one. They asked, ‘Please tell us something about Sadhguru when he was young.’ My father thought and said, ‘He was such a dull boy. But now he has become a genius.’

If you make him feel ashamed of what he is not able to see, he may never speak about what he is able to see...

Maybe you have fifty percent geniuses in your classroom and you are missing the whole point. They cannot go by your systems of A+B=C. He doesn’t understand; it doesn’t make any sense. Why is A+B equal to C? Simply because somebody says so. Maybe he can't fix his mind into that framework, but you don't know what is happening in his mind. You don't know what he is able to see. If you make him feel ashamed of what he is not able to see, he may never speak about what he is able to see, and you don't know what you are missing by that. He may be seeing something that nobody has seen.

The ingenuity of a human being may do much more than education could ever do. Does it mean to say we don’t need education? No, that is not the point. What is needed is to build a human body and human mind to its full capacity and have the necessary balance to be able to use it. Towards what? It need not be towards anything. If human beings walk sensibly, if they live sensibly, it is good enough. The purpose of life is life alone. Fulfillment of life is in experiencing life in all its dimensions and that will remain a possibility only when we remain seekers of Truth and not believers of instructions or dogma that is thrown at us either by teachers or priests or pundits or scriptures that they all fall back on.

Love & Grace

*Excerpted from Darshan with Sadhguru.