Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
When the year started off, a very dear friend and colleague explained his class about the 6 levels of moral development, the work of Lawrence Kohlberg; and about Rafe Esquith, who has been instilling awareness in students to develop a strong moral conscience that governs their decisions in school and later in life.
Why do we do what we do? What drives us really? The answer to this question lies in one of these levels. I will try and explain the levels here in the same manner that i explained to the kids in my classroom.
Level 1: I don’t want to get into trouble. I don’t want to get punished. I obey rules out of fear. This is how most children operate. Fear of the teacher, principal’s office, timeout or extra assignments. Honestly this is how most adults operate too! I have met so many individuals who do things out of fear of being judged, outcast and inconvenienced. We all sometimes fall into this trap!
Level 2: I want a reward. If i do what i am supposed to do, i will be rewarded, with candy, new toys, prizes etc. Should we do things because we get something in the end??? How many of us have heard our parents telling us, “If you get so and so % in your exams, you will get a new bike!”? How many of say it to our own kids??? Now how many of us have been brought up to do things to get a reward in the end? The desired college admission, the consulting job, the bonus, the salary, the promotion. Do we do things to just find the reward?
Level 3: I want to please someone. My parents, my teachers, my friends, my boss, my team leader, the society. The list really never ends. They say you can’t please everyone, but we sure know we try! Do we do what we do to please others, or do we want to please ourselves?
Level 4: I always follow rules. I understand the purpose of rules. I understand that rules are necessary for society to function properly. I do not swerve from rules just because my friends do so. We feel this is the level we should all belong to. But if every single great personality in history has broken a rule, then why do we still feel that rules are the rule all?
Level 5: I am considerate of other’s. I can empathize, put myself in their position and understand perspectives. I can put aside my own desires when they hurt others. How many of us keep our calm and not spill over in the opposite lane when we are running late? How many of us put our phones on silent in a movie hall? How many of us leave the public restroom clean for the next person after we use it? This is a hard level to be at for anyone.
Level 6: I have a personal code of morals. No person can sway me from them. I make decisions based on eternal consequences and not immediate pleasure. How many of us really do things that are the RIGHT thing to do! Live your life the way you want to live it because it is the only right way to live. Do things because they are the RIGHT thing to do.
At first I thought it was way too sophisticated for third graders. But the beauty of it is that because they now aware of the levels of their actions and even just being aware of why we do what we do is sometimes a first step towards moving up the levels of moral development. Most importantly i realised the power of this for myself. As much as we would like to believe that we are in levels 5 and 6, i found that there are various situations where we all try to not get into trouble, look for a reward, please others and blindly follow rules. This post is just a reminder for all of us to strive to be the people we were meant to be.
The quote in the beginning by Marianne Williamson is one of my all time favourites. It somehow makes me feel that most of us are governed by this. We shine less so others can have the lime light; we do less so others don’t feel overshadowed. When we were meant to experience life in all its richness for ourselves then when did we start living so that others around us feel more at ease? For all my kids i want that they shine beyond measure and do what their personal code of morals dictates. For all of us let us get over our deepest fears and illuminate too.
Leaving you with some clips of our moral development trackers and glimpses from our special trust circle where we share all our joys, fears, celebrations and inhibitions. ( Yes we do it with Lavender candles and sandalwood incense). Do leave a comment or reply if you feel there is something you want to share as well J