On Diwali day, my mother gifted 20 euros to my children aged 8 and 11. Once the initial euphoria of receiving cash gifts subsided, they started thinking about how to spend that newly acquired wealth – on toys. So, after a couple of hours, off we went to a toy shop where they stared at toys from a large and successful Danish manufacturer. Now, there is not really much you can buy with 20 euros – most toys of that brand, specially the ones they wanted, were priced at much more. My younger son asked me, “Why don’t you put in some money so I can buy a nice toy?”. “That is not going to happen,” was my reply. “You may spend what you have, not what you don’t.” After much deliberation, he decided on a toy which was within his budget. He also wanted to pay “with his own money” so he proudly handed over the 20 euros to the cashier himself. The cashier drew the receipt and placed the toy packaging in a plastic bag. As must be the custom in that shop, the cashier, almost mechanically, started putting a ‘free’ and rather thick brochure of toys from that manufacturer in the bag. I caught her in time and politely declined the ‘free brochure’. This is an insidious way of sowing the seeds of desire in children.
The way it works is like this.
The brochure is full of pictures of toys set up in ways arrestingly interesting to a child’s mind. Children pore through the pictures and imagine themselves playing with those toys. They do this over and over again. Soon, as it must happen, they lose interest in the toy they have and want one of the toys from the brochure. They then use pleading, requesting, demanding, insisting, threatening (anything which works) ploys with their parents with an aim to make them buy them the toy they desire. Most of them will not rest till they have that particular toy. As frequently happens, parents, who might not be able to afford the toy in question will buy a cheaper one, just to pacify the child. By then it is too late. The child’s mind has a seed of desire implanted deep in its recesses which has taken root. Buying a cheaper toy will water the seed just the same.
This seed of desire is sown deep in the subconscious part of the mind. As the seed germinates, it will break the surface into the conscious part of the mind through into the world of work and action. Which means the conscious mind will keep taking decisions and actions which will keep watering the plant. Plants can bear flowers and fruit which are beneficial to all. In our analogy, it means we undertake actions which are for the good of all. Or the plant can become a weed, serving no useful purpose, bearing no flower or fruit, occupying the limited surface area of our conscious mind and sucking up nutrients from the surrounding plants which want to bear flower and fruit.