From Awareness by Anthony DeMello . . .
The great Scottish educator, A. S. Neill (1883-1973), founded an experimental school called Summerhill which, a hundred years later, is still thriving. Summerhill is an independent British boarding school run as a democratic community based on the principle that school should be made to fit the child, rather than the other way around.
Here is a powerful quote from A.S. Neill:
“Every child has a god in him or her. Our attempts to mold the child will turn the god into a devil. Children come to my school, little devils, hating the world, destructive, unmannerly, lying, thieving, bad-tempered. In six months they are happy, healthy children who do no evil. And I am no genius, I just refuse to guide the steps of children. I let them form their own values and the values are invariably good and social.
The religion that makes people good makes people bad, but the religion known as freedom makes all people good, for it destroys the inner conflict that makes people devils .“
I think those few sentences should be written in gold.
Do you know where war comes from? It comes from projecting outside of us the conflict that is inside. Show me an individual in whom there is no inner self-conflict and I’ll show you an individual in whom there is no violence. On the other hand, when you swing into action from your own inner conflict with your own hatred and condemnation unaddressed, you will project some form of violence and only compound whatever error needs to be understood and addressed.
Neill said, “The first thing I do when a child comes to Summerhill is destroy its conscience.” That might sound terrible to some, but what Neill is talking about is that you don’t need conscience when you are free of inner conflict. You have sensitivity; you’re awake and you don’t need conscience when you have consciousness. You’re not violent, you’re not fearful. Think about that. You might think this is an unattainable ideal. Well, read that book and you”ll think differently.
As you begin to understand your own inner conflict, it drops and transformational things start to happen to you. You stop making demands on yourself, you stop having expectations of yourself, you stop pushing yourself. You stop seeking other people’s appreciation and praise. You stop thinking: look at me, attend to me, support me, value me. You stop chasing power, money and success to prove your worth in the world.
Instead, you are able to nourish yourself on wholesome food. I’m no talking about actual food. I’m talking about simple nourishing things. About sunsets, about nature, about a good movie, a good book, about enjoyable work you love doing, about good company.
Reflect on this for a moment. What kind of feeling comes upon you when you’re in touch with nature, or when you’re absorbed in work that you love? Or when you’re really conversing with someone whose company you enjoy in openness and intimacy without clinging? Compare those feelings with the feelings you have when you prevail in an argument, or when you advance your career, or when people are applauding you. The latter feelings I call worldly feelings; the former feelings I call soul feelings.
Lots of people gain the world and lose their soul. Feed yourself on soul feelings and then you’ll see the transformation. Then you’ll find in yourself the God in every child.