In response to this, here an excerpt of an audio interview with me from several months ago, conducted by Alan Steinfeld:
Anita Moorjani: I believe that we are actually born aware of who we are; I mean, we are born knowing how magnificent we are. I feel we are not meant to lose it. We come into this world with the intention of holding onto it, and many of us come with dreams of changing the world and make it a better place for everyone. But somehow things fall by the wayside, things get in the way, our fear gets in the way, our egos get in the way. All sorts of things get in the way. That’s what it feels like to me. I was sure that I had come into this world (as a baby) with my magnificence intact, but I have been conditioned to forget it along the way. If we all remembered who we truly are, our lives would be very, very different.
Alan Steinfeld: If we look at children, I guess they do have a sense of their curiosity and wonder and then it is not so much their ego, it is what comes from outside of them that puts them in these little boxes; puts us, all of us in these boxes.
Anita Moorjani: That is exactly it. When we look at little children, they know that they are special. They are full of joy. When you know that you are loved and special, you don’t become all selfish and egotistical; which is what the popular perception is. In fact it is the contrary, you become full of joy – the way you see little children who laugh so easily. That is actually what happens, you become like a child. You laugh easily, you don’t take things seriously and you become a joy to be around. Actually you become much more giving. The more that you love yourself and the more you realize how powerful you are, you actually become much more generous because you can afford to be. You’re not afraid. You’re not afraid of keeping things close to your chest, or competing, or fighting. You know that you’ll get what is yours. So you become very generous, giving, joyful and popular. People love people like that, self-actualized people.
Alan Steinfeld: How would you raise a child, teaching them? You would restructure the whole system wouldn’t you?
Anita Moorjani: Oh, how I wish I could restructure the whole system! I would create things so differently! If it were up to me, our focus, as a race and society, would be more on achieving joy, love and health, with much less emphasis on the pursuit of money for the sake of money! I give credit to those who choose to home school their children. It is hard work because our society does not support it. It supports something completely opposite. So on the one hand, it feels like you are swimming upstream, going against the flow, while on the other hand, I keep telling people you are supposed to be going with the flow. But the flow that we have created within our society is the kind that goes against who we really are and that’s the problem. So in our society, we find ourselves amidst a lot of contradictions, with a lot of things to work against, in order to be authentic to who we truly are. But what I would do regardless, even if I had to send my children through the regular system that currently exists; I would still tell my child every single day that they are loved unconditionally. It does not mean that I will not reprimand, or tell them things that they have done that are hurtful, or point things out to them. But here is one thing that we seem to do pretty much universally, we like to instill fear in children to discipline them. And we think that fear keeps our children well behaved and keeps them safe and so on. I don’t agree with that, I think we need to instill self-love and self-respect into our children. The more a person loves themselves, the more likely they are to keep themselves safe. What keeps you safe is love and not fear.
Alan Steinfeld: Just that understanding would change everything about how we raise our children.
Anita Moorjani: That is what I believe. It is so simple and I don’t understand why our entire system is built on fear.
Alan Steinfeld: How would you teach love to children?
Anita Moorjani: I would tell children that it is ok to be different. You are not supposed to all be the same. I was bullied as a child because I was different. I grew up in a culture that was not my own culture. So I was a different race, religion, color, everything and I felt different. I felt like I never belonged. I felt like I had to work really hard to fit in. And I was completely unaware that everybody around me was unaware that it was ok to be different. So I spent my entire life feeling like there was something wrong with me. If it were up to me, I would want every single child to know that they are meant to be unique. They are meant to share their uniqueness. I would teach children to embrace their uniqueness and embrace everybody else’s uniqueness. I would also eliminate competition in schools. It only encourages us to compete, but competition at that age causes fear. It causes us to fear failing, to fear not being good enough, and needing to feel good by being better than the people around us. We don’t need that. Life is a journey, not a zero sum game. You don’t have to have losers in order to feel like a winner. You can feel like a winner and everybody can feel like a winner.
Alan Steinfeld: You know, going back to what you said before. I always felt that I was different; not because I looked different. I just always felt outside of the culture somehow and I always loved that about myself even though I felt like I never fit in. I still feel different from everyone else in some way.
Anita Moorjani: But see, that is beautiful. It’s beautiful to be different. I only embraced the value of being different after my near death experience. It took that for me realize, “Oh, I was meant to be this way. I’m not supposed to try and contort myself to make myself fit in, or make myself small, or make myself someone else. This is who I am and it is amazing and it is a gift.” And that is what kids need to know.
Alan Steinfeld: I like what you said about no competition, one ego against another. But what other real radical things would you do in education?
Anita Moorjani: I would love for kids to learn to view their bodies and health differently from the way we currently view ourselves. I would let kids know that they have the resources within them to heal. I think kids need to know from a young age that their bodies have this amazing, magical ability. A lot of kids today are getting the message for example that their bodies are unable to heal, or even grow strong, without our constant intervention; so they are becoming more and more sensitive. We are becoming extremely fearful about things like illnesses and we are passing this fear on to our kids. We are telling them: don’t do this or that, don’t play there, don’t eat that, we tell them that they must follow strict hygiene rules, and we are obsessive about cleanliness, and so on; and I think sometimes that we go over the top. You look at Western culture, we are drugging up our kids from a very young age for everything. Whereas, if you go to a third world country, kids are eating the dirt off the streets and they’re still surviving and growing up to be really strong, working laboriously long hours doing manual and physical labor. Our bodies are physically very resilient and kids need to know that. This is the reason why so many of us think that everything is going to make us sick. That is the other thing I would change with kids. I would really like them to know that they are physically much stronger than what they currently believe they are.
You can listen to the whole interview here