"The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not sufficient warrant. He cannot be rightfully compelled to do or forbear because it will be better for him to do so, because it will make him happier, because, in the opinion of others, to do so would be wise, or even right....The only part of the conduct of anyone, for which he is amenable to society, is that which concerns others. In the part which merely concerns him, his independence is, of right, absolute. Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign." ~John Stuart Mill
"In my day, we didn't have self-esteem. We had self-respect, and no more of it than we had earned." ~Jane Haddam
When I was young, I was a super achiever in school. The other kids were always saying rude things to me like, "You're just lucky", "You were born smart" or "You're the teacher's pet." Those comments infuriated me because they weren't true. I didn't get a scholarship to a top university because I was lucky. While my friends sat around watching television, I was busy studying. I wasn't doing it to show off. I enjoyed learning.
A few years ago, I read about the link between learning and brain chemistry. Researchers discovered that when we learn something new, our brains release endorphins. This means that learning is its own reward. You don't need grades, money, praise, or any other external reward for your efforts to learn.
As a homeschool mom, I believe that kids should study what they want to learn. I don't tell my kids what to study. When I tell other parents about our methods, they are appalled. How dare I allow my kids that kind of freedom?! They look at their own kids, who are resistant to doing homework, and they say, "If I didn't threaten my kids every day, they would be flunking out of school."
Well, that's just the problem. People think they have to be forced to learn. God created the human brain to be a self-rewarding mechanism. It doesn't need any outside coercion. Do you have to force a baby to learn to walk? No. The baby wants to do it because every time he takes another step, his brain is flooded with endorphins, and he feels good about himself. Every baby learns to walk, even those who have uncaring parents who don't praise and encourage them.
Public school nearly ruined my first child. He was born with a great desire for freedom. Having school teachers who stood over him, telling him every little thing to do, upset him. So he rebelled. When he flunked out of seventh grade, we started homeschooling. After studying about various methods, I decided to do "unschooling". This method is based on giving the child the freedom to choose his own subjects and pursue them in his own way. When I introduced the idea to my family, my husband was doubtful. But he didn't have much choice, since he was at work all day.
My son thought it sounded great. Then he spent the next 3 months goofing off and doing nothing useful, as far as I could tell. I read that this is normal for kids who have been ruined by public school. So I let him be. The only rule during that time was that he couldn't watch television or play computer games. We went to the library once a week, where the kids could check out anything they desired. My son wasn't too interested, but he went along, since it was the family outing.
During the fourth month, he confessed that he was dying of boredom. In fact,
he was so bored that he was crying. This was a good sign. It meant that he was ready to start learning. He begged me to tell him what to do. I refused. He threw a fit, but I didn't give in. A week later, he told me that he had a plan for his education. He just needed my help to purchase the expensive math textbooks and foreign language courses that were not available at the library. After one year of homeschooling, he was a self-disciplined student. He still had many ups and downs over the years, but he always took responsibility for himself.
My son is currently serving a church mission in Brazil. He wrote to me recently to thank me for teaching him how to be responsible. He has noticed that not all missionaries know how to discipline themselves.
My daughters are still homeschooling. I don't force them to do math, but they are both studying calculus, along with many other subjects. My oldest daughter is an artist. We found a good teacher who is like an older sister to her. They get along beautifully. My other daughter is a pianist. She also has a teacher who fits her personality. I think that teachers are important, but they need to be chosen carefully. This daughter excels at so many things that her biggest trial in life is trying to decide what to major in when she goes to college next year. She got an excellent score of 33 (out of 36) on her ACT. I think that's sufficient proof that our homeschooling methods worked.
My girls are really bothered by people who say, "You are so talented. I could never do that." Baloney! My girls weren't born doing this stuff. They work for hours every day. Nobody forces them to learn. They learn because it feels good. Happy brain functioning is its own reward.
When OBE explorer Robert Monroe was asked about the purpose of life, he said that it is to develop the left brain hemisphere. We are here to learn how to think. The Hemi-Sync technology that he invented is designed to improve brain function. It is similar to my favorite brainwave entrainment program, Holosync, which was invented by Bill Harris. Both programs are designed to synchronize the left and right brain hemispheres for whole brain functioning. I'm more familiar with Holosync, since our family has been doing it for 5 years. Bill Harris probably knows more about this technology than any other living person. He provides lots of information and support for program participants. The step-by-step program is well-designed and very effective. His blog posts and Life Principles courses are icing on the cake.
Since we are here to learn how to think, life is designed to fulfill that purpose. Life is a never-ending series of problems -- one right after another. Boredom is torture for a human being. People who don't have enough problems end up unconsciously creating more problems for themselves and others.
Without problems to solve, the brain quickly deteriorates, as research on Alzheimer's disease shows. The brain is a malleable organ, capable of rapid change. A little challenge every day helps to keep Alzheimer's away (or at least postpone it). People of any age who challenge themselves more than average naturally become smarter than average.
If you've read my previous articles, you know that I'm an OBE explorer. During one memorable OBE, I asked the helpers what I'm supposed to be doing at this time in my life. They replied, "You need to learn about free agency." This answer surprised me. I thought that I already understood that concept. But I was wrong. I'm only just beginning to understand it now.
I spent many months thinking about free agency, and I had a lot of important realizations. First, I realized that we have to work for what we get, whether it is physical or spiritual. This is a law of the universe. Learning continues forever. But that's not a bad thing because learning is the source of happiness.
I also realized that even though we can choose what to do, we cannot choose the consequences of our actions. There are always consequences. So we must try to imagine what the consequences will be before we act. This can be very difficult because nobody knows the future. Often, there are too many variables to be able to predict the consequences with accuracy. Under these circumstances, how do you make a resourceful choice?
The more awareness you have, the easier it is to imagine in advance what the results of your choices might be. People who lack awareness make lots of unresourceful choices. Meditation increases awareness. Meditation isn't about sitting around staring at the wall. It is a serious way to increase your intelligence, self-control, and decision-making capabilities.
My biggest realization was that even the helpers can't tell me what to do. I have to figure it out for myself because it's my responsibility. Several months after my encounter with the helpers, I read the following in Luis Minero's Demystifying the Out-of-Body Experience: "Let us consider what would happen if we left the body and asked the helpers, 'What is my existential program [the purpose of my life]?' Helpers do not and would not say what our existential program is because part of accomplishing it is us figuring out what it is."
Minero continues, "Helpers want us to learn to make our own decisions and to be responsible for their results....Helpers do not want nor need us to follow them. Wanting or needing others to follow us is a sure sign of immaturity....They lead by example....Helpers do not force anything on us; they completely respect our free will....It is critical to realize that evolution comes from us, from within, by learning to evaluate what is best and carrying it out, not just following something that somebody else said....However, if we do pose questions, helpers will not allow us to leave empty-handed. They will help us by providing information, perspectives, angles, and ideas that we had not considered, so as for us to make the best possible decision."
I enjoy reading OBE books, even though I can't vouch for some of the strange things they say, since I haven't had all of the same experiences. OBE-ers really understand the concept of free agency. They have a good idea of how they got here and where they are going when it's over. They emphasize how much work it takes to become an OBE explorer. I can vouch for that.
I love new challenges and new ideas. I get a kick out of the endorphin rush that comes with each new discovery. I think of myself as an explorer -- an eternal student of the universe.