Question: I am a high school teacher and wanted to ask for your advice about how not to make a mistake with children, how to inspire them. About fifty percent of the pupils in my class take Ritalin because they are being tagged as having ADD or ADHD. (Attention Deficit Disorder/Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder) What would your advice be?


ith so many doctors and psychiatrics and all this, I don’t think a ‘normal’ child is born anymore. There are no ‘normal’ children because whatever they do, there is a label for them. If they are active, they are ‘hyperactive’ – ADHD. If they are a little slow, it is something else. Whichever way they are, one label is fixed, nailed to them, which they have to carry for the rest of their life. Someone can run fast, someone limps, someone does something else – this is all normal. This is how human beings are.  It is just that because we are trying to put all of them into one slot, they look abnormal.

It is like your traveling bag.  At the airport, they have this measuring device that your bag is supposed to fit into; otherwise some of the airlines don’t let you take it. Almost nobody’s bag fits into that; I am sure only the terror guys have come with the right-sized bag. But the normal passengers don’t fit their bags into it because when people travel they need things – they take this, they take that, they buy this, they buy that – it will be bulging and it won’t fit. So all these are abnormal people.

Have you seen a perfect mango tree? Similarly, have you seen a perfect human being? Unless they are machine turned out, there is no question of whatever you call perfect. Our idea of perfection is so messed up. Our idea of perfection is we must be able to put everybody into the same hole, then they are perfect. Because we are trying to put everybody through the same kind of schooling, everybody should become a doctor, or an engineer, something – children are enduring this torture. Because of that, somebody looks like they have ADD or ADHD. Otherwise, every one of them is capable of doing something. Some may just be so happy, they may not do anything.

The education system is not going to change tomorrow, but at least you don’t have to label those who are with you right now.

You must see the deer in the forest. At around eight thirty, there will be bunches of deer here. Simply. They eat, romp around, they don’t work. The castrated bullock which is drawing the cart will look at them and say, ‘Those useless deer, they do nothing.’ What to do? Even the elephant does nothing. He doesn’t romp, he rampages through whatever he sees. But it is fine. That is how they should be. Unfortunately, we became industrialized societies – that means we need cogs in the wheels. We don’t need human beings anymore; we need some nut and bolt which fits into the system we have created. Well we are partially successful as we have quite a few nuts.

Because of that, everybody looks abnormal.  Probably the fifty percent that you think are abnormal are probably normal human beings. The other fifty percent are machine turned out. I don’t want to make such a sweeping judgment but it is unfortunate that we are going this way. We are not thinking of living, we are thinking of productivity, so we are trying to produce machines which will produce more. Because of that, any machine that does not produce what you think it must produce suddenly looks abnormal. It is not necessary that all of us should be equally capable. Some can walk, some can crawl, some can fly, it is all right. Why are we setting this nonsensical idea that only if somebody is able to do this much, he is a normal human being? It is not necessary to set that. It is a crime to label a child as this or that because he has no clue what this stupid game is you are playing and already he is labeled, and he has to carry it for the rest of his life because you are comparing your child to your neighbor’s child.

The education system is not going to change tomorrow, but at least you don’t have to label those who are with you right now. It is all right that he cannot do what somebody else does. You do not know what he may do. I should tell you this. A few doctors came from the United States. They were in Mysore and without telling me they decided to visit my father. My father’s idea of success is you must become a doctor. His whole life’s dream was to be a doctor and he became one. And his dream was that all four of his children should become doctors. One by one, we failed him; I was the hopeless hope. When I was eleven, twelve years of age, I declared, ‘No way is that going to happen.’ So these doctors wanted to know something about their Guru when he was not one. They asked, ‘Please tell us something about Sadhguru when he was young.’ My father thought and said, ‘He was such a dull boy. But now he has become a genius.’

If you make him feel ashamed of what he is not able to see, he may never speak about what he is able to see…

Maybe you have fifty percent geniuses in your classroom and you are missing the whole point. They cannot go by your systems of A+B=C. He doesn’t understand; it doesn’t make any sense. Why is A+B equal to C? Simply because somebody says so. Maybe he can’t fix his mind into that framework, but you don’t know what is happening in his mind. You don’t know what he is able to see. If you make him feel ashamed of what he is not able to see, he may never speak about what he is able to see, and you don’t know what you are missing by that. He may be seeing something that nobody has seen.

The ingenuity of a human being may do much more than education could ever do. Does it mean to say we don’t need education? No, that is not the point. What is needed is to build a human body and human mind to its full capacity and have the necessary balance to be able to use it. Towards what? It need not be towards anything. If human beings walk sensibly, if they live sensibly, it is good enough. The purpose of life is life alone. Fulfillment of life is in experiencing life in all its dimensions and that will remain a possibility only when we remain seekers of Truth and not believers of instructions or dogma that is thrown at us either by teachers or priests or pundits or scriptures that they all fall back on.

Love & Grace,
*Excerpted from Darshan with Sadhguru.

You may also like

POSTED IN:Sadhguru, Sadhguru Spot
TAGS: children
  • Ranga Nath


  • disqus_qezQTnAsv8

    Reminded of short story ‘The Apple Tree’ by Daphne Du Maurier.

    “The tree was scraggy and of a depressing thinness, possessing none of the gnarled solidity of its companions.

    Its few branches, growing high upon the trunk like narrow shoulders on a tall body; While the topmost branch sticking up into the air, . . yet sagging slightly could have been a drooping head poked forward in an attitude of weariness. “

  • Uthya Balan

    Whenever i read ur blog tears roll down… Thank you so much Sadhguru ji…

  • Helga Yorks

    Love thise.. So much!!!!

  • Beryl Ohagan

    An excellent article

  • Babu

    Sadhguru always on the other (right) end of things to be seen ! Brilliant

  • Judy Wiggins

    WOW!! Thank you, Sadhguru, for speaking such Truth! I will the law makers who decide and enforce how we teach our children would wake up to this Truth!

  • Angela

    Finally! Some one who agrees with me :)
    Thank You!

  • Neena Julka

    This is a good reminder about how our notion of normality affects our attitudes towards different children. Rather than encouraging children to realise their potential, teachers are increasingly put under pressure to achieve their ‘targets’. Sadhguru’s advice is sound & should be quoted when challenged.

  • Avima

    this is amazing insight and thanks for clearing up my thoughts on this. My kids is in the so called “hyper active” catagory but my husband and I refused to put him on medication. We figured hez a kid who wants to behave like one and not be all sophesticated already.
    But inside we were worried and unsure of our decision. Reading this post has cleared all my thoughts and I now have a confidence that he will grow up to do something that he loves.
    Thank you so much!

  • Ceekaykay

    Thank God the “dull boy”, became a “Genius” later on, otherwise we morons would have continued to live stale uninspired lives!

    A + B = C , A plus B is equals to C
    Some don’t get the point you see
    Dullard in maths you might say
    But the truth is not quite far away
    You will find this child as a poet some day

    Fits and Misfits labelled thus
    Children lose in us their precious trust
    Suffering in low self esteem they do wane
    And we have only ourselves to blame.

  • Indu

    This is The Best article I read recently.Fantastic Sadguru ,all parents as well as teachers should read it.Pranams

  • Rajesh Sundaram

    So apt and realistic. Thank you Sadhguru!

  • Suneta

    Eye Opener for many parents & teachers..

  • Sivanesan Balasubramanium

    Blasting Insight :)

  • Sucharitha

    Kids should be left free till the age of 14 years. Unfortunately examinations and other competitive pressures are taking a toll on their lives. There should be lot of Physical games played in school, only then children can get away from ADHD.

  • Ambedkar Podeti

    shambho!!! Excellent article sadhguru…thanks..

  • Arvind Benegal

    This is simply a fabulous post! Every parent who cares for her/his young one needs to pay attention to this. A terrific practical approach to parenting!

  • Michelle Sarabia

    I am an American Special Ed teacher. I went into special ed because I was drawn toward helping the misfits, and I have watched as national and state policies have gradually squeezed the life out of the students I serve. I try to give them the opportunity to find their strengths, but then they are not spending time on what the state has decided to make them work on and I must struggle to allow them those moments. This article made me cry, in a very good way. Thank you for recognizing the worth in all people.

  • Sreepriya Bindiganavile Murali

    I completely agree that it is very good to let the child learn in their own way or give them enough time to learn what they like to learn, but very not easy to implement from a parent’s perspective. In this materialistic world, parents would like to make sure that when their children grow up, they are able to survive and sustain themselves without being discriminated. How do we ensure that the child is able to develop their full potential? How do we make sure that the world does not label them as hyperactive or dull or shy or incapable or anything for that matter? Even if we try to do our best, there are so many people around us labeling our children various names that we would not like. How would we ensure that our children are confident to face the real world? If we get answers as to how to do this, it would be much easier to not label and let children be themselves.

    • Nirupama

      If I may reply to your angst ridden question…I would like to say that the best thing to do would be to show him his strengths, encourage him and motivate him to do what he is good at doing…give him the gift of good self-esteem…these will carry him through life…he will find his own potential…along with this, we all need to give our children clean fresh, natural food, limited exposure to technology and regular meal times and bed-times…to ensure they don’t suffer from restlessness…our modern lifestyles are ‘making’ our children hyperactive…its not their fault. Its for us to awaken….. love

      • Sreepriya Bindiganavile Murali

        Thank you for posting a response Nirupama, this was not an angst ridden question though, it was to seek answers to situations we face everyday. Will try my best to implement your suggestions. As a parent I sometimes feel helpless when I have to have my child fit into the so called ‘normal’ category as we are constantly surrounded by people who question you why a child is being different and they start advising you on how to bring them back to normalcy. This in turn leads to us to put pressure on the kids unknowingly. I think parents (like me) need coaching on how to handle such situations without feeling frustrated

        • guest

          I think the trick is not to give any importance to what others think or say and just do what is best for your child. Eventually people will lose interest and start judging other people who value their opinions . There is a story about how you can never please everyone.

          A MAN and his son were once going with their Donkey to market. As they were walking along by its side a countryman passed them and said: “You fools, what is a Donkey for but to ride upon?” 1

          So the Man put the Boy on the Donkey and they went on their way. But soon they passed a group of men, one of whom said: “See that lazy youngster, he lets his father walk while he rides.” 2

          So the Man ordered his Boy to get off, and got on himself. But they hadn’t gone far when they passed two women, one of whom said to the other: “Shame on that lazy lout to let his poor little son trudge along.” 3

          Well, the Man didn’t know what to do, but at last he took his Boy up before him on the Donkey. By this time they had come to the town, and the passers-by began to jeer and point at them. The Man stopped and asked what they were scoffing at. The men said: “Aren’t you ashamed of yourself for overloading that poor Donkey of yours—you and your hulking son?” 4

          The Man and Boy got off and tried to think what to do. They thought and they thought, till at last the man tied the donkey’s feet togther and then he got a long branch and he put it between the donkey’s legs and then the man and his son picked up the donkey and carried him to the market.

          ’Poor donkey!’ everbody shouted. ’Put that donkey down! Don’t tie its legs! Let it walk!’

  • babu

    Lets take printouts of this and send it to all schools…may be some changes happen

  • Manoj Parashar

    In the last para there is key line.”if they live sensibly it is good enough”. Interpretation of the term “sensible” here will rely upon sensibility of parents. This may be conflicting for the same parent at two different times/occasions. This would be because we ourselves, just like grown-up-kids are still imperfect and biased with parent-child relationship with our own kid rather than others.
    – Manoj

  • indirapriya

    Excellent, I am also a teacher handling adolescent children they are vibrant and perfect by themselves but they are caged inside the curriculum and syllabus and compelled to compete before understanding the reality.

  • Krishna

    what a wonderful, comprehensive article!! no words to thank Sadhguru!

  • vikrant

    i love this

  • Muru Siva

    Nature is how it is.. but we humans are naming it as normal ,abnormal active, passive, lame and so forth….but even cancer which grows has a natural pattern in it….trying to understand nature is our primary duty not to act from the position that we have known. Always be ready to learn…dont try to be a teacher…but we are all disciples…still learning, trying to understand

  • Muru Siva

    The only reason that people want to name, brand something is so that he can share what he have seen or experienced. This is nature of mind…if the mind did not mind and went on without minding then all this education and common believe, formulas would not be around, whatever springs from human mind cannot be the truth for what is , is the truth. Nature should not be altered but to be understood

  • shambo

    sadhguru, you showed me the way. thank you.

  • Nagarajan S

    great words of wisdom from Sadguru .. i wish our educationalists and government appoint Sadguru as a consultant for some five years to transform Indian education and reform our confused and rusted eduction system .

  • Tarun

    A very apt & true remarks of current education system . Pranam Sadhguru!!!

  • keerthi

    I was every time thinking about this,why is a child compared to other everytime,even though he gets 20th rank out of 20,why not parents think my child passed exams instead they think my child is last in the class…………
    I every time teach lessons myself that this should not be a case with my kid….

  • nee

    Wow… Thanks a tonne for that….i was almost beginning to think there was something wrong with my kid.. But looks like its my perception that is wrong… Thanks for reminding that we are all normal human beings… Lets just hope that all the new scientific and modern researches don’t get in the way of our parenting skills….

  • Sharmi

    This is what i am trying to learn my government. About the labels, i’m fighting against it for a few years because they believe labeling and drugging childeren and adults will make them straight. Even parents are to blame. My son always told me; mama, their are no loosers, we all are winners. I am not highly intelligent, i am a human being. This he said at age 5. He was an object for teachers, classmates and their parents, psychologists and even justice to bully him and band him by judges out of my house. He did not had any education at all but still he remaind his curiosity. After many cases he is at home with trauma’s but doing fine in education. This is what is happening in my country today The Netherlands.

    So thank u Sadhguru-ji for bringing this and all topic related stories which i can forward to my government, parents and schools. I tried on my own but not much succes.

  • Von

    Namaste Sadhguru-ji,
    a few years ago a psychologist asked my son the following question; ‘there is a tree in the forest, how would you give the tree water?” My son said; ” i don’t have to because trees in forests are meant to survive on their own, they did for ages so why should i? It is a part of nature.” The psychologist wrote that my son didn’t had any fantasy and probable suffering from autism or asperger. He had to be tested by a childpsychiatrist (professor MD) who said it was rubbish and foolish to blame my son for being philosophical which she didn’t understand. That is the whole problem of society i think, lack of understanding.

  • Happy

    Not only are children tagged…even after becoming adults we are tagged with many things we don’t do or can’t do or don’t want to do… Example we have not got a child from a 5 year marriage, you know what all we have to hear… Pray, eat this, not that, you are abnormal check that, go to this hospital… For a better living, may be I don’t want a child…why make it a mandate… What if my genre doesn’t pass on… Its OK… Accept people as they are… Thanks Sadhguru for answering this way…. :)