An Exploration of Sacred Parenting and Education

may it be love

In Education, parenting on January 9, 2012 at 9:08 pm

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.

Khalil Gibran

We live in exponential times. Fifteen years ago, mobile phones were the size of a brick, I didn’t know what an e-mail account was and we used an A to Z map to get to places. Who could have predicted what we carry around i our pockets today.  In another fifteen years the growth isn’t going to be as unpredictable. The path here inst linear but an exponential curve. It’ll be more unpredictable then we can currently, with all our technology, imagine. Yet, as Ken Robinson reminds us, we have to prepare our children for it. That question is on the minds of educationists and their desire to reform education from a model that’s rooted in the industrial age to one suitable for the information age. May be what is needed is not a reform but a complete transformation of education. Its interesting to see institutes, still dominated in hierarchical structures with managers still taking authoritarian approaches to managing people (by wanting to throw their weight around), are under pressure to use virtual learning environments, interactive whiteboards and online websites in their institutes to meet the government requirements and the growing pedagogical needs of their students. Students who take to collaborative approaches to learning  rather than the chalk-talk vessel filling approaches. What such institutes are asking for is a total shift in working culture for effective teaching and learning to take place; i.e to outgrow their old skins. “And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, he pours new wine into new wineskins.” Mark 2:2.

Yet today, we as parents, face the similar dilemma -unless we can bend in His hands. I was reminded of Khakil Gibran’s words today when I tried to get my daughter to do something simple: To come and sit next to me so I can explain why Owais, her 1 year old brother, should be given 2 minutes on the computer. I realised she has a mind, heart and soul of her own and unless I am in tune and work with that, by being in tune and centered within my self, I may run the risk of obscuring, at the price of conformity, her original self.

“You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.”

I don’t know what the answers are about raising children for tomorrow. A tomorrow we can’t imagine with all the challenges it will bring. May be you do? (Please comment).  We may not be able to give them our thoughts, but we can give them our love – and our tradition is just that. If love is our center and the context for everything -then may be this essential timeless ingredient will hold us, transform us, enliven us and open our hearts to each other and to the Divine. In the words of Mevlana Rumi

Love is from the infinite, and will remain until eternity.

The seeker of love escapes the chains of birth and death.

Tomorrow, when resurrection comes,

The heart that is not in love will fail the test.

Ashq Olsan – May it be love

  1. Thank you for another thought-provoking post, Saqib. Here are few of my thoughts:

    The internet is such a double-edged sword and how we approach education in light of it is a really tricky question. On the one hand it can facilitate the sharing of hearts and minds and build creative communities (like ours here); on the other it is a labyrinth for our lower selves to become dissipated in, a junk pile of useless images and information which draws us away from Reality, and in educational terms away from the basic skills of numeracy and literacy. If we are going to encourage an education that makes great use of the internet, we need to be careful to counter-balance it by encouraging a greater interaction with the physical world, with Nature especially, and perhaps with a more rigorous approach to the basic skills that seem to be on the wane.

    This might mean a return to some old forms of education, as well as a blazing of new trails. The holistic approach must be what we are after, I think.

    On a tangent, I hear good things about Steiner and Montessori schools, which many in our community seem to have experienced as parents. Perhaps much can be drawn from their approaches. And of course, there are the wonderful resources created by Jeremy and Kabir Dede in the Book Foundation, which are just crying out be used in an educational setting. It seems to me that we have the beginnings for an alternative approach to education based on spiritual principles – we just need to figure out how to bring it to the world.


  2. As a parent of a child at a Montessori and previously enrolled to eventually go to a Steiner, these thoughts are the very ones my wife and I have sought to embrace. Montessori as explained to meseems to be a happy medium between the enforced pace of early learning of traditional schooling and the deliberately staggered pace of Steiner schooling. Montessori seems to take each child’s ability and desire to learn more into account and is why we are now thinking to keep our child there till age 11.

    And I guess that has elements of the very salient point Daniel has made that it is not one or the other but the best mix of both that we can put together to make the most sense of achieving our objectives.

    One final thought that came to mind when you talked of being in tune with your daughter, it reminded me of one of Steven Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Seek First To Understand, Then To Be Understood. Often times people just need to feel they’ve been heard and considered regardless of the eventual outcome which they’ll understand easier if you’ve taken the time to have previously done the same.

    Thank you for your post, it was thought provoking.

  3. Thank you for sharing. I recently came across a muslim montessori school recently. I’m not sure what the fees were but I couldn’t afford it!

    I just feel its high time, with our spiritual tradition, legacy of Islamic civilization and current scholarship in the Muslim world we produced our own educational model based on the spiritual principles we live. Khadim suggested we can use this blog to do that! Wouldn’t that be wonderful? Given all the experience we have in the order – people came and collaborated here – almost like a book writing itself out…

  4. Muchos Gracias for your article.Really thank you! Keep writing.

  5. Great post, I conceive website owners should learn a lot from this blog its really user pleasant. So much wonderful information on here :D.

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