The Philosophy and You
Murshida Vera Corda
Guides’ Manual, 1974
Seed Center 1
New Age Sufi School
Inayat Khan gave the Sufi Message to America in the first quarter of the twentieth century. As we now approach the completion of that century, we are fortunate to see in retrospect the truth of his teachings on the education of children. This pir among murshids saw that the only hope of creating a new spirit of brotherhood/sisterhood and peace in the world, which would be lasting, was in teaching our children the ideal of unselfishness.
Inayat taught us to view education in five aspects or disciplines: physical, mental, moral, social, and spiritual. These are taught simultaneously through exposure to a controlled environment, exploration of the self, and allowing the child to discover his/her own goals in life. By following a curriculum that utilizes every moment of his/her learning day in tasks that are pleasurable, because they are planned at his/her developmental level, the child will develop a positive attitude toward his/her work.
Every talent within the Sufi community is tapped for the school. Craftspeople, artists, musicians, dancers, scientists, and philosophers give one or more days each month to the school. This enables the child to experience the Message working through people in action rather than theory. The child gets it through personal contact.
The interdependence of all kingdoms of nature, including the human kingdom, demands that the happiness of any one depends upon the happiness of all. “This is the first and last lesson of the age,” Inayat reminds us.
Physical education is taught through the walk, the dance, rhythmic movement, and supervised play rotating with free play, outdoors if weather permits. The supervised play is always in a group and depends upon others’ enjoyment for personal fulfillment. Play is seen as useful in developing the brain through muscle/nerve coordination. All work is pleasurable because it is self chosen and reinforced by personal guides assigned to the child for compatibility. Physical activity precedes mental activity and is followed by rest, contemplation, and listening training. Each child learns to sit or lie still and relax on his/her own mat during these time periods.
Mental education is divided between outdoor and indoor school. Outdoors the child sees, explores, and records his/her discoveries. Indoors s/he works in the controlled environment of Learning Centers, which s/he chooses to explore for a week or more at a time. The guide directs tasks, insisting upon detail and precision, and thus aids in the development of mental power. Outdoors the games chosen also demand mental power. In all mental education, fine mentality is encouraged and rewarded when tasks demanding keen perception, love of subtlety, gracefulness, and refinement of the manner in which the task is accomplished become part of the child’s awareness.
Moral education is introduced to the child through right direction of love, a keen sense of the joy of harmony and proper understanding of true beauty. Right use means sharing, giving from the heart, dividing one’s choice possessions. The guide constantly reminds the child how good s/he will feel in his/her heart when s/he behaves this way and how pleased his/her peers will be. The guide sees that the reward to the child is immediate and gratifying. Constant verbal praise and recognition is heard in the Sufi Seed Center to reinforce desired behavior patterns. Bringing to the child’s attention that love is sacrificing something we care about very much in order that another may be made happy is best taught by example of guide to guide and guide to child. We endeavor to give the child an immediate reward for his/her moments of untutored selflessness.
Charity of heart is taught through obedience to simple directives which are gradually elaborated. Respect, service to others, and natural responses are the desired goals of the guide. At first this will be a one-to-one experience, but eventually by the child’s own choice it will become a small group experience.
Moral education begins with give and take. We never presume that the child knows his/her relation and duty to his/her associates. This must be made clear, daily, one-to-one, and with many repetitions, demonstrations, and rewards. The world family is introduced through many areas such as the kingdom houses and their interrelationships in nature, his/her own family’s relation to the community, our nation as a family of many races, our continent as a family of different peoples, and finally the world brotherhood/sisterhood, which crosses all other lines.
Social development considers first the child’s freedom to choose from among selected media. When s/he seeks a companion we begin two-to-one instruction. When s/he gravitates to the group we begin work in the learning centers. Families are encouraged to plan social visits with the children included. Field trips and camp-outs are planned for these family units. Observation by the guide and knowledge of the developmental patterns at each level make social development the natural outcome of the experiences within the Seed Center.
Inayat Khan taught that spiritual development comes about by showing the child that there is a divine ideal towards which the whole humanity is progressing; as the universes in the heavens also progress; that like a magnet all are being drawn back to the source. Truthfulness and honesty in one’s dealings become genuineness in adult life; in a word, sincerity.
Saying what s/he means to say to his/her peers and guide is encouraged. The guide avoids spirit and ghost stories and heaven and hell theology. S/he tries to keep the child close to reality by naming fantasy when it comes up in a story or play.
Responsibility for one’s actions is taught through the child’s daily experiences. If the rules are broken the child must know what to expect. Justice to all without favoritism is appreciated by children. They will uphold their own standards in such an atmosphere. Spirituality is not hard to teach for it is the natural inclination of the child. The guides, parents, and other adults to whom the child attunes must help build this natural inclination.