How do I reassure my children about current world events?

Swami Suryananda explains how by being positive and living in conscious Love, we can change the world through our own actions.
Pebbles on a beach painted by children

Lord Murugan Temple Satsang – 17th January 2021

Question: Children are often very sensitive to all of the negativity in the world, all the hostility and horrible things that are going on. How do we help them to deal with that, to cope with it all… to understand it?

Swami Suryananda: Guru taught me that the most effective way that you can bring about a change is through the example of your own life.

There is a lot of negativity and hostility – but you can't just go and save the world. You can, however, make an amazing impact on the world through your own life – through living in the consciousness of love, and through every interaction to be positive and uplifting.

Then that sets in motion cause and effect; through your own actions, the person who receives it then feels uplifted. They are inspired and that maybe helps bring about a change in their life… and that affects more, and more, and more people.

If you look at what Guru did… okay, Guru chose in this incarnation to have a relatively small number of people around him (compared to say someone like Sai Baba) yet, hopefully, those people who have been around him have been inspired by how he led his life.

Inspired by his teachings and what he showed in practice and have tried to emulate that – which in turn has impacted many, many lives.

Guru Sri Subramanium leading a satsang

Teaching the law of cause & effect

You can also talk about karma – you can talk about cause and effect because a lot of people find it difficult to understand. There is often the question;

“How can an all-loving God allow suffering in the world? How can an all-compassionate, loving God permit there to be so much negativity, hostility, aggression, and violence in the world?”

It is a question people often ask who are ‘anti-religion’, as it were. That is where an understanding of karma comes in; an understanding of cause and effect, both on an individual level but also on collective karma (the karma of a group of people, of a country, of a race even).

So you could give some examples. You could begin by giving the example of cause and effect in terms of your own actions, and how those can actually, like dropping a pebble into a lake, can ripple outwards and impact on many, many, many people.

Even though you are only initially interacting with a very small circle of people, the consequences of those actions, if positive, can be truly transformative.

Give the person, the child, an awareness of the law of karma; explain that in every action, there are cycles of reaction.

You can’t view things in a simplistic way; taking a snapshot view of the world. You have to have (or begin to cultivate) an understanding of reincarnation and of the vastness of cause and effect.

You can’t run to a position of judgment; so you can’t see something and have a judgment about it and say “This is bad because of this, this and this.” Because you are only seeing a very small snapshot of a situation.

For example; somebody may commit a crime, or someone may have the disposition to be an alcoholic. So where has that come from? Probably, it is not just something that has happened in this incarnation.

It may be an inclination that has gone back for many, many, many cycles of birth. It takes a potentially massive shift in that person’s life to bring about a change – whereas another person may never be remotely bothered about alcohol.

Society jumps to judgments. Oh, yes, there is a lot of negativity and other bad things going on, but society in itself jumps to judging all the time.

Collective karma

You can talk about collective karma. One very simple way of talking about collective karma is with regards to the whole issue of global warming and climate change.

A big proportion of so-called civilized society has a responsibility, a collective responsibility for it and the consequences manifesting on the planet.

Everything has cause and effect. So, you begin to cultivate in that young person an understanding of cause and effect; the consequences of action, both on an individual basis, and our responsibility on a collective basis.

Not so much to judge, or to jump to an opinion about something – because again we don’t have the vision often to really understand the karmic background to why this has happened…

“Why is somebody born in a third-world state where they have no food and they are suffering? Why is somebody born with deformities or with disabilities? How does that work with karma? They must have done something bad…”

When you begin to educate somebody about karma, you have to bring forward those things because they will be in that person’s mind anyway. There is a danger they can form a judgment. But we are all responsible for the consequences of our actions.

Start at home

Guru used to say that God is the silent witness, watching that unfolding drama of karma. Yet it is a very intricate law; everything is governed by that law of cause and effect.

The first thing that we need to be able to do is to actually be aware; be mindful of the consequences of our actions, and how positive actions can bring about a positive change in the world.

That is what a person can do; if you want to create a change, begin by how you interact with your dog, by how you interact with Mum and Dad, with your friends at school, with everyone you come in contact with.

You go to a supermarket checkout, you give a smile to the person on the checkout and say, “Have a nice day.” A simple interaction like that can actually begin to transform someone’s day, can actually begin to bring about a change.

Guru created many opportunities for us to do that within the Community and for that to set an example for other people; just in terms of how we interact with life.

He loved to be surrounded by life, so every opportunity there is to care for life, in a simple way; to be sensitive to the needs of life, both human beings, animals and plants that are around us.

He would, through his own actions, try and begin to cultivate a sensitivity and an awareness for us to have for the vibrations of life around us. Then create opportunities for us to bring about a positive change.

There is always an opportunity to bring about positive change. You are the one who can do that, through your actions – through your consciousness and awareness, and set an example of your own life which can then actually over time have a massive impact and can be transformative.

Praying for individuals

What I’ve found (and I’ve done this) is actually to pick an individual; it doesn’t have to be somebody you know, but in that act of prayer, to intensely pray for somebody in the world who at this moment has not got any food. For the compassionate love of God somehow to bring food to that person. Anyone, at this moment – to appeal to the grace of God to bring food to that person.

To free somebody who has been wrongfully imprisoned, to prevent somebody from being the victim of some type of rape or sexual assault, to bring clothing and shelter to an individual who is currently freezing cold, and has no clothes or shelter… to prevent oppression.

So, for example, you see something on the news. Say there is an earthquake, and you see hundreds of people trapped in buildings. Just pray for an individual somehow to be found amongst that rubble by a rescue team or by some mechanism.

I find it provides a real focus on prayer when you are not trying to save the world but you are actually directing the compassion of the Divine to an individual – even though you might not know who that person is.

You know, for sure, that there is someone in the world at the moment who has no food, no water… who is oppressed, who is imprisoned wrongly. That is for sure. My experience is that you get an amazing response from the Divine when you pray like that for an unknown individual.

That is what we do in a temple. The Ranganatha Temple… that temple is a temple of preservation. The vibrations that emanate from that temple impact on the world. They really do impact the world. And so, by going there and praying and seeking the grace and the manifestation of the Divine in that form of the preserver of life – it actually has an incredibly positive impact on the world.

Sri Ranganatha or Lord Vishnu at night
The Sri Ranganatha Temple

That temple, especially the Vishnu temple, and those vibrations emanate out from that temple benefit the whole world. It is a positive place of power.

Skanda Vale is a positive place of power. Your children have an opportunity to come here and pray, harnessing the energy and power that is here and directly contributing towards that vibration that will emanate into the world.

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