Several years ago I attended a landscaping course. I studied the basics: how to cultivate plants and lay lawns, how to prune trees and bushes, how to fight weeds and create lovely compositions etc. After the first few lessons I realized that conventional cultivation methods put the emphasis on appearance and speedy results by heavy usage of various chemicals. I learned that certain chemicals are applied in spring and some in autumn. Plants, such as clover and dandelions, which appear naturally in the garden, are regarded as weeds, which should be eliminated with herbicides. However, fruit-trees are stimulated for quicker ripening. Trees and bushes are trimmed and tied for the sake of better appearance. Compatibility and wellbeing of the plants are not taken into account and treated as objects rather than live beings. The use of chemicals ultimately affects plant health and renders the soil poor and devoid of valuable bugs and earthworms. The balance of the ecosystem, which includes plants, animals, insects, humans and soil, is ruined. Plants’ immune systems are aggravated, which again require the use of chemicals to treat or avoid fungal attacks and other diseases.
The main principle in conventional landscape gardening is the outer ‘beauty’ and how to produce it faster. Sleek and polished look – no matter what it takes. Hardly anyone thinks of the consequences to one’s own health and Nature’s wellbeing.
In a lecture about lawns, I simply could not hold back and asked a question: ‘How can I let a child crawl on the grass if it has been sprayed with chemicals?’ The whole audience turned their heads and looked at me with a puzzled look. Silent pause. The answer was, if I wanted a beautiful lawn I just couldn’t get it without the help of chemicals.
Why do I tell you all of this? You know what? I see the same principles applied in modern day child care and conventional landscaping and agriculture. The development of a child is stimulated by artificial vitamins, overwhelming massage given by stranger’s arms, sleeptraining, infant swimming classes, baby school etc. Stress levels, that build up due to intense and unnatural childcare may cause different psychosomathic deseases, delay in brain development and even induce babies to refuse mother’s milk. We hear more often that babies skip the important crawling stage of development and begin to walk. There is a faulty opinion that the faster a child develops, the better. This bring so much young parents fuss around the children development, what kids should and should not be able to do at certain age.
In addition, a child’s sensory system may have been overstimulated with shiny things and squeaky toys made of synthetic materials. Children have to compete with the television for their parents’ attention. Food for children is full of additives and dangerous sweeteners, for instance, glucose-fructose syrup, which can result in allergies and hyperactivity. This all overloads sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch. Such over-stimulated children suffer from stress, ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), from skin diseases, they refuse to eat healthy food and they find it difficult to concentrate. A constant supply of new toys (in which interest quickly fades) serves to stimulate the child – but an excited child cannot be easily calmed down, therefore parents start using sedatives, tranquillizers and even anti-depressants. So again – stimulation with one chemical and then the treatment of the negative consequences with another. Synthetic sedatives hinder a child’s brain development and the whole body will suffer from a variety of adverse reactions.
And now a brief aside on chemistry. The agro-chemical industry began in America and Europe in the 19th century, firstly with the development of artificial fertilizers, and then, in the second half of the 20th century, with the extension of pesticides to agriculture*. All promoted at the expense of natural methods since these offered no advantage to the chemical companies. During the World War I chemical weapon factories were built in Europe, but at the end of the war, these factories were not closed, but reclassified. They continued to produce the same chemicals, but this time in order to sell them to a section of the civilian population – farmers. The ease of using artificial fertilizers was highlighted and thus they would not have to bother about traditional methods. Farmers were persuaded, that microelements are the same, regardless of where they come from. All this pressure was intensified with the help of marketing campaigns claiming that the fields and gardens would grow better with increased yields if chemical soil supplements, insecticides, fungicides and infectious disease treatments were applied. In this way the chemistry originally produced for military purposes as chemical weapons, arrived on store shelves and started poisoning ourselves. (For example, the insecticide DDT was originally created by World War I battlefield needs, the number of victims amounted to 800 000 people. The Geneva Protocol banned its use, but did not interfere its development and use in agriculture.) Similarly with child care: mothers have been indirectly encouraged to give up breastfeeding in favour of convenient artificial formulas, although there is nothing more convenient than breast milk, which is always at the required temperature, quantity and ideal for a child. Also, new mothers are taught that artificial nutrients are the same or even better than natural ones, which come from the mother’s breast. Formally, it has been acknowledged that mother’s milk is the best nutritional choice for infants, but in reality a completely different story has been told in the doctor’s office. Negative advertising of mother’s milk has effectively been widespread due to the fallacious view that after a year there is nothing valuable in mother’s milk and therefore mothers should strengthen a child’s constitution with what? With artificial vitamins and supplements.
As I previous mentioned about grass, which some believe cannot grow without chemicals, so it is believed that children cannot grow normally without vitamins and artificial supplements for pregnant women and children. Society would have us believe that all the time you need something additional. Modern medicine, similarly as landscape gardening, is predicated on the principle that Nature has to be improved, supplemented, and controlled. The manufacturers of medicines and artificial baby feeding supplements have limited opportunities for conventional advertising. However that does not stop them from doing it indirectly by promoting their products with family doctors and paediatricians, offering them inducements to favour one or other brand and to recommend them to easily influenced young parents. Doctors are effectively the pharmaceutical companies’ sales representatives. Parents go willing to them, whereas if a company salesman turned up on the doorstep they would send him away with a flea in his ear.
The distributors of artificial supplements believe that, thanks to these modern formulas, children around the world are better nourished and less likely to die from hunger and disease, especially in developing countries. But mothers for thousands of years have been feeding their children with their own milk and weaning them when they are ready. In fact, children die from unsanitary conditions, low parental education levels and parents’ indolence, not from insufficient food. Moreover, it is kept quiet that those health problems (which have been resulted from artificial supplements) will provide the next generation of customers for the same chemical manufacturers. Research** has shown that the usage of artificial supplements is connected with children’s allergies, asthma, chronic skin conditions, diabetes and obesity. Great pressure is put on a child’s liver trying to cope with synthetic and toxic components. It is commonly assumed that noxious components in food stuffs are present in such tiny amounts that they do no harm. However, I would add that there are no specific studies on the effect of these substances in small doses. These adverse substances accumulate in the body (especially in the liver) and in the long term can lead to various physical and mental symptoms.
A child’s immune system becomes weaker as additives suppress natural vitamin synthesis and lead to vitamin deficiencies. The body becomes addicted to pharmacy. Also nutrients from food start to be absorbed badly in the body, because the balance of the intestinal microenvironment is upset. And where do parents look for salvation? – in the pharmacy. That is why children suffer from infections and fungal diseases. And again, here we can draw parallels with what happens in landscape gardening: ‘Certain treatments are applied in spring, and treatments with the contrary effect are applied in autumn. In parent forums you come across the widespread opinion: ‘Yes, I know that antibiotics are bad for my child, but we will drink yogurts afterwards and everything will be just fine’. This and other similar opinions occur due to only one reason – parents’ lack of information and knowledge about how to take care of their children, so that they do not get ill, and in the case that they do become ill, how to cure them without the use of synthetic pills and vitamins. Modern medicine laughs at the use of natural remedies in the treatment of serious illnesses – and we know why: because the use of natural remedies would deprive them of customers.
Children have also been stimulated psychologically. Since an early age are taught to be independent and self-sufficient. Infants sleep separately from their mothers, they are not picked up on demand (so that they do not get used to it), the parents ignore the child’s crying, the child’s mouth is stuffed with a dummy, children are trained to ride in a pushchair, they are taught to swim even before they have begun to walk, and all is achieved with crying and struggles. And all this for the sake of ‘independence’, ‘self-sufficiency’ and being ‘toughened up’. ‘Throwing children into the deep end’ like this, actually leads to the opposite effect – the formation of a dependent personality with difficulties in adapting to new circumstances with a sense of insecurity and a difficulty in finding their place in life. Children learn that their opinions and feelings are not taken seriously. Later in life such children are selfish and lack sympathy and compassion. And you have understood it correctly, such characteristic features are typically of criminals. Experts wonder how to solve the problem of increasing violence among students in school. But, to my mind, the causes are so obvious – cynical child care. Since children are very flexible, they rather quickly adapt to any conditions in order to survive. After a while they stop resisting their parents and stop crying, when they are sent to kindergarten and made to be prematurely independent, but parents triumphantly show off to others that, for example, their child can be left with any person regardless of whether they are a mother, nanny or a nanny’s friend. There is an unnatural social environment in kindergarten and all that children learn there is how to please adults by obeying authoritative regime.
A plant, which has been forced, will snap in the first strong wind, so there is a need to support it. Such a plant lacks resistance to diseases and pests. But a plant, which develops at a natural pace, will grow with a stronger root system and thicker shoots. Such a situation occurs only due to the lack of knowledge of how to do things differently. Knowledge about the natural way of living has been forgotten and people find it difficult to trust Nature. People assume that if they leave things alone then chaos will result in both family and garden. But the truth is that chaos starts where there is lack of knowledge. I do not imply that children should be left unattended. On the contrary, supervision is needed, but it should not restrict the child’s freedom. In other words, supervision should be suitable for a child.
A human has placed himself and his children under the command of various regulations, standards, norms and laws that has caused the impression that neither children, nor plants can grow without artificial intervention. There is a common point of view that development should be externally stimulated, because everything will stop without it. Health should be maintained by such means, because a human cannot naturally be healthy without intervention. In addition, communication skills should be specifically taught under the supervision of a teacher, otherwise a person will not be able to socialize. All the processes should be under strict supervision and control. Any attempt to do things differently from the ‘standard’ way results in criticism with such comments as – ‘You are a bad mother. How dare you do things differently? You do not obey the system. Oh, dear!’ That is the message and it gains people’s attention, when there is no knowledge, making it easy to spread disinformation profitable for the system, which makes business from people being sick. It is beneficial for those manufacturers, who keep producing new toys, which overstimulate the sensory system, improved milk formulas for infants, drugs and gadgets. All this is for parents’ convenience. But did you know that lack of knowledge creates prejudices and stereotypical thinking? I think that no other field of life has so many stereotypes and prejudices as child care and upbringing. Mostly it is due to fear of being labelled ‘bad parents’ by the system. Fear, as we all know, paralyses the consciousness of a person and takes freedom away.
Just as clover and dandelions are regarded as loathsome weeds in the garden, similarly a child’s emotions and behaviour has been categorised into right and wrong. When children are smiley and happy – parents react positively, but when children cry and show anger – parents react disapprovingly or even ignore them. Most frequently a child’s mouth has been simply plugged with a dummy. A child’s emotions are not diminished by such actions. They have been ‘swallowed’ and a child learns, that he is not loved. A child feels that they have been only partially accepted and only then when they express positive emotions. Parents attempt to eradicate certain features or emotions in a child’s character, because there is a widely held belief, that reacting to a child’s crying will, after a time, allow the child to manipulate his parents. Similarly there is a belief, that if you do not uproot the weeds in the garden, they will soon take over the entire lawn. There are no monocultures in Nature, because everything is connected in Nature and if there is ‘weed’ – it is there for a reason. Such a sterile lawn can exist only then if unnatural chemicals are applied. The child with ideal behaviour and no negative emotions does not exist, because a child is a human being with his own reaction to situations in life. But parents often lack interest or are in denial about the real reasons of their child’s ‘bad’ behaviour. Instead it is much easier to say: ‘Go to your room and deal with your anger! Come back when you have calmed down!’ How does a child perceive this? I will interpret: ‘When I am angry, nobody accepts and loves me. I become loved and welcomed in this family when I am obedient and smiley’. Infants find themselves crying alone in a room for various upbringing purposes. For example, children are taught to sleep without a night feed or simply parents do not know what to do with a crying baby. Infants make the same conclusions (which I have mentioned before). In the long run, ignorance of such emotions, violence and elimination of unwelcome behaviour lead to the creation of a person with an inferiority complex, who has a victim mentality and an inability to manage their emotions. Later at school the child behaves aggressively or is a victim of aggression himself, which is, in fact, one and the same thing. You probably have a question ‘why is it so’? Because an inferiority complex can manifest itself as being an aggressor or a victim.
Let us talk about compatibility. If a plant has sown itself naturally in a certain place, then it is because it has found the place to be the most suitable – it prefers the soil, the nearby plants and insect community. Such a plant will grow strong with a strong immune system and will not bother other plants. Moreover, it will complement the whole environment and its inhabitants. If the plants are planted artificially, then you definitely need to know the principles of compatibility between the plant and the environment in which it is to be planted. Without such knowledge, there will be problems with the development of both the plants and their neighbours. Similarly with children who have been brought up in an unsuitable environment and eating unnatural food. Furthermore, these children will cause trouble for their parents, because children will naturally resist unsuitable conditions and unsuitable care or food. Mostly, children grow up in cities and kindergartens, where the connection with Nature is minimal – virtually none. Child care and development take place according to a schedule, specific development timetables, regulated food intake etc. Also physical: children playpens, walkers, uncomfortable kangaroo bags and other inventions that limit a child’s movement and mobility. I do not have any illusions, that people will start living in the countryside and take their kids out of kindergarten. However, regardless of the environment, parents must have knowledge about proper child care and their children’s needs without limiting their creativity, killing their ability to show initiative and realise their dreams in life, wasting children’s skills by learning useless poems, damaging their health and asking the impossible of them. Everyone will benefit from this.
Just as plants naturally choose the best place to grow, so children are born, where they will have the most appropriate conditions. All this is karmic, because everything is determined by karma. A child (read – a child’s karma) chooses the parents and conditions before birth. But this fact cannot serve as an excuse for an inadequate care. Each tear of a child registers in the karmic records and each tear of a child brings bad karma to the parents.
And finally, what does this adequate child care and upbringing look like? I will compare it once more with gardening. Before the agrochemical revolution, which I mentioned earlier, all farms in Europe were more or less bio-dynamic – they were systems in which each plant, animal, insect and man had their place and the whole system was based on mutual cooperation and respect. They were absolutely self-sufficient. Such farms are natural, i.e. they live according to the laws of Nature. Nowadays there are such farms, but, unfortunately, they are in the minority. Similarly in a minority are those parents who think about child care and upbringing in accordance with the laws of Nature, rather than a system dictated by society’s rules. So an adequate child care and upbringing requires a respectful attitude towards both a child and the whole family, and is based on love and knowledge of the rules of Nature. Those laws of Nature, which I have mentioned repeatedly, define the science called Āyurveda. This science has stood the test of time and is based on natural care, not only for children, but also for their parents. So it is good news – there is an opportunity to live without harming either yourself, or your children or Nature.
There has been fixed ideas and assumptions at different times about what would be better for a child, but all these things were inconsistent then and they are still inconsistent now. There are deep-rooted and false ideas, which are in conflict with the laws of Nature. In modern society, what one person deems to be appropriate, another will consider to be wrong and as a result, firstly, confusion and, secondly, the fear of doing something wrong may result. But there are diametrically opposed opinions. People have stopped trusting Nature and its wisdom. The only thing that can help in this situation is to ignore the noise (which has been created by expressed opinions) and focus on the knowledge that has not suffered from the historical traces left in people’s consciousness, minds and perceptions. The Vedas, including Ayurveda, carry information about the natural order of things arranged by God and it was not invented by an individual affected by traditions, social systems or stereotypes. This is the knowledge of Nature. Ayurveda is the science of life, it is free from stereotypical views, so there is no room for violence and intolerance against both children and the plants. Mankind is a part of Nature and if we try to work against the laws of Nature, then this will manifest itself in the form of problems in health and relationships etc. It would be wrong to think that we are the masters of everything we see around. Although the self-proclaimed master – man – does not like to admit it, but the laws of Nature are all-powerful and they determine everything that happens on the Earth and in the Universe. If we cooperate with Nature, then we will live happier and healthier and most importantly so will our children.