How can the Dhamma help children, how can we teach the Dhamma to children?


I'll follow along here with Rosemary. The first question: how can the Dhamma help children - the Dhamma can help every one of us, if we understand the proper way. What we are talking about is developing every kind of beneficial quality that we are capable of developing. As Rosemary just mentioned with these friends of ours, they told the child how to develop generosity, how to share, and how to have happiness while the sharing was going on.

If you have children, can you teach them how to share? Can you teach them how to be patient? Can you teach them how to be loving and kind? If you teach them that, then they will develop those qualities within themselves, they will become more like that. This is how the Dhamma can actually help children.

But the way that we teach children, of course, has to be slightly different compared to the way that you can learn the Dhamma. For many of you, you have life experience on different levels and when I talk to somebody perhaps my age in an interview I'm able to use some of their life experience. If I try to teach a 10 year old, they don't have the same life experience. So I have to try to imagine what is it that the 10 year old actually knows?

I have to try to use their experience in order to teach them. I have to drop down my level to them. In a similar way as a teacher, if I'm teaching someone of my age I'm speaking in a certain way, but then there are two different ways I might talk to that person. If the person is a brand new meditator or if the person has meditated 10 years, or even two weeks, I have to change my level of teaching to the appropriate level. In this way with helping children you have to try to understand where they are at and then work with that.

I mentioned that we have, at present, nine assistants at Wat Kow Tahm. Some of them started with us 11 years ago, some of them have been our assistants for five years, some are very new, some have been our students for only a few years. Sometimes we have a brand new assistant who has only done a couple of retreats. We teach our older assistants to be careful how to talk to the younger ones.

And for myself as well, sometimes with a group of students, somebody who is very experienced asks me a question, which was on a very high level. Generally I kind of ignore their question and drop down to the lower level of less experienced people in the group. Sometimes this student of experience will get upset at me for not answering their question. But I take them aside, explain to them why I wouldn't answer on the higher level, as it would confuse the other people on the lower level. Then they understand.

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