By Darshan Lotichius

Two hours every week are spent with five third graders. On my schedule it says I’m supposed to teach them music.

Have I taught music before? Sure! Apart from many individual violin classes, I explored the realm of sound for about 6 years with a previous generation in our school.

We sang long notes and assigned colors to them. We studied repertoire from many inspired music sources in the world. We gave concerts and formed a very nice choir.

Looking back, that one seems easy to me now.

By comparison this one is more difficult.

By comparison? Beware! Never compare!

Why not Sir?

Because by comparing you lose touch with the ability to explore the unique potential of the children that are with you RIGHT NOW!

Thank you Sir.

There we are then, this group, these children…The very thought of not making comparisons already relaxes my heart a little, making it more open and childlike in trying to perceive the music that is waiting to expand in those young minds and bodies.

So…we play the violin together…not bad, many good moments of developing motor skills and sound sensitivity…

Why are some going so much more slowly than others?


Yes, I know Sir, don’t compare.

So, little Mario seems to be in his own world and doesn’t respond when I call him. In fact me calling him signifies an unwelcome intrusion in his private business.

Not really, because I’ve got an idea!

Mario washes the dishes and he does so with remarkable care and calmness.

Then it’s time for composing music.

Composing music? Are you crazy?

Well, this thought from the teachers manual keeps ringing in my mind, always, when I am with children. It says:

Efl teachers find more satisfaction in empowering children to accomplish things than in accomplishing things themselves.

So, Mario, sits at the piano and his job is to find a melody with the white keys, beginning and ending with the central c-key.

I observe him, listen and then try to play for him what I’ve heard, adding some timbre to his melody and a left hand accompaniment.

-Is that what you meant? I play it slowly.

Yes! He sits on my lap and has his hand on my hand that delicately touches the keys.

-What would you like to call it?

-Enchanted sea.

I write down the notes for him, then ask him to copy it and glue it on a sheet of white paper where he can make a drawing around it am
and write his name and the title of the composition on it.

My plan is to teach him to sing the melody with the names of the notes and subsequently to find lyrics for this melody, which is quite special, in all its simplicity.

Then it’s Annabel’s turn. With her I have to contain my tendency to intervene with suggestions. She is not satisfied and keeps seeking.

-Do you mean this, Annabel?


And she continues her exploration.

Finally I get to write down what’s she’s come up with.

But as she starts copying the notes she asks me to make a change.

-Can you please not write long notes? I want a merry song!

Empower her Darshan, don’t impose your own love of long notes!


A slow four quarter beat becomes a faster three quarter beat and Annabel has her song. After she’s finished writing the notes, she starts her drawing.

-How about a title?

-I don’t know!

I start making suggestions:

-The merry-go-round…the dance of the goblins…the party of the elves…

None of these satisfy her

I suggest that she ask for a title that night, before falling asleep.

-It might come to you in a dream!

She looks at me with a healthy dose of reserve, like saying: I might try, but it will be following the will within me, not your will.

And then school is over.

Survey Question Corresponding Life Skill Charts
1) I am energetic and enthusiastic Forming Healthy Habits, Getting Up in the Morning
2) I am comfortable with who I am. Choosing Happiness, Practicing Peace
3) I strive to improve myself. Building Will Power, Living Truth
4) I give up easily when things get difficult. Building Will Power, Cultivating Courage
5) I have a hard time relaxing physically. Practicing Peace, Forming Healthy Habits
6) I am cheerful and even-minded. Nurturing Even-Mindedness, Choosing Happiness,
7) I am aware of the needs of others. Working with Others, Expanding Sensitivity
8) I can’t concentrate if there are distractions. Developing Concentration, Sharpening the Mind
9) I get my responsibilities done on time. Building Will Power
10) I get plenty of physical activity. Forming Healthy Habits
11) I appreciate beauty in art, nature, and music. Expanding Sensitivity
12) My mind works in original and creative ways. Sharpening the Mind, Exploring Flexibility
13) I don’t sit and stand up straight. Forming Healthy Habits
14) I always follow constructive guidance. Building Will Power, Living Truth
15) I am tolerant with people even when I disagree with them. Exploring Flexibility, Expanding Sensitivity
16) When I wake up in the morning, I feel refreshed & energetic. Getting Up in the Morning
17) I don’t think about the reasons for my behavior. Living Truth, Building Will Power
18) I forget things. Sharpening the Mind
19) I avoid eating junk food. Gaining Control of Your Diet
20) I share my possessions, talents, and time with others. Working with Others
21) I can tell the difference between right and wrong. Living Truth, Practicing Peace
22) I value humor and look for ways to lighten serious situations. Choosing Happiness, Exploring Flexibility
23) I work well with others. Working with Others, Making Friends
24) I don’t always stand up for what I believe is true. Cultivating Courage, Building Will Power
25) I resist behavior that isn’t good for me or others. Building Will Power, Cultivating Courage
26) I express my gratitude to those who help me. Working with Others
27) I respond to challenges with initiative and energy. Building Will Power, Exploring Flexibility
28) I cultivate feelings of peace, joy, and love. Practicing Peace, Choosing Happiness
29) Sometimes I don’t bathe or brush my teeth Forming Healthy Habits
30) I like to learn new things. Sharpening the Mind, Exploring Flexibility
31) I work to keep my body flexible and agile. Forming Healthy Habits
32) I don’t always tell the truth. Living Truth

The Lila School, an Education for Life School in Slovenia, started in September, 2013. An interview with Tina Rutar, the founder of the school.

EFL: What  does it take to get a school started?

Tina: First we contacted the Education for Life headquarters to find out what I could do to educate teachers in this way and start a school with this philosophy. The steps are pretty easy, but it does take persistence. We have a very dedicated group helping manifest this project. It took about two years to manifest this school (Lila).

EFL: How did you begin?

Tina: We began by defining a vision for the school. The next step was to start gathering potential parents. We created a series of public lectures on Education for Life and sent out invitations to our friends, asking them to forward the email to anyone they thought might be interested. We made sure to include a note saying that it was okay to keep forwarding the information.

The next steps included the creation of a Facebook page and a website where we could notify people for upcoming events and information.

We also offered free classes on EFL in schools to teachers. We would meet once a month for four hours of training. These courses included games and philosophy.  Our goal was to educate and also to magnetize a teacher for our school. We found our teacher after someone who attended our classes mentioned them to a friend. (We knew that the teacher would be the most important and also the hardest to find.)

When looking for parents, we focused our energy to reaching people interested in yoga, healthy eating, and ecological education. We also contacted preschools which offered special programs such as yoga or vegetarian diet.

EFL: What did you learn from marketing the school?

Tina: We learned that most of our students come from referrals, and that it is very important to meet potential parents as quickly as possible.

We continue to reach out to new parents through events that will interest the types of families we would like to have in our school. One example is our bazaar. We have parents offering their time and skills. One parent gives massages for $5 and donates the money to the school. Students perform dances and skits.

For more information go to (It will help if you can understand Slovenian.)

  •  Requirements for Licensing an Education for Life School

    The school mission statement must be approved by the EFL International Board of Directors. In addition, the school must receive positive reports at three to five year intervals from onsite visiting teams selected by EFL International verifying that the school’s administrators and teachers are implementing the EFL philosophy to the best of their abilities.

    Teachers must be EFL certified or working towards certification through participation in EFL Teacher Development classes. The final EFL Teacher Credential will be awarded after the teacher has demonstrated the ability to implement EFL techniques in the classroom for at least a year. This award is made in collaboration between the school director and EFL International.

    The school shall maintain an ongoing relationship with EFL International through annual participation in at least two of the following:

    1. Attendance at an EFL conference
    2. Teacher/Administrator visits to another EFL School for observation, consultation, and/or collaboration
    3. Advanced EFL Teacher Training/In-service and/or Parent Classes taught by an EFL mentor

    The school shall pay EFL International an annual fee of $1,000 if 50 or more students are enrolled, or $20/student if attendance is lower than 50.

Next Steps:


The following are a series of quotations from Paramhansa Yogananda selected by various teachers of Education for Life schools in Europe and the U.S.

“Educational authorities deem it impossible to teach spiritual principles in public schools because they confuse them with the variety of conflicting forms of religious faith. But if they concentrate on the universal principles of peace, love, service, tolerance, and faith that govern the spiritual life, and devise methods of practically growing such seeds in the fertile soil of the child’s mind, then the imaginary difficulty is dissolved. It is the greatest mistake to ignore this problem just because it is seemingly difficult.”
-The Balanced Life, East-West Magazine, Nov/Dec 1925

“If young people, before getting entangled in worldly life, experience the bliss of meditation, they are little likely to fall victim in later years to the ubiquitous sense delusions.”
-God Talks with Arjuna, Chapter V, Verse 22

“Constructive criticism is given in a loving way.  It is not easy to criticize others rightly, accurately, and kindly until one can first accurately criticize himself.  The art of criticism consists in picturing clearly the faults of others, and in looking at those faults with a sympathetic attitude, as if they belonged to oneself; only then is one’s criticism justifiable.

Mental criticism is worse than criticism by words.  It is futile and self-harming to be inwardly critical of others.  One should cleanse the mind of inwardly disturbing adverse thoughts of others.   If they want your criticism, use a look or a hint to criticize lovingly; but use as few words as possible.  A criticism should not be repeated more than twice.  Loving criticism should be left as a seed to germinate in the soil of recipient souls.  We can’t force others to do what we want them to do, buy sometimes by correct and just criticism, by doing or saying the right thing at the right time, we can help people to a great extent.”
-SRF Lessons, Volume 3: Lesson 6

“Education does not consist in pumping ideas and the contents of books into the brain, but it consists of the development of intuition and the bringing of the hidden memory of all knowledge already existing in the soul back into the plane of human consciousness.
-Praeceptum No. 87

“To help your family with food is necessary, but to help them develop their mental powers is more necessary. To help develop their souls by leading them to meditative ways of God-contact is of paramount importance.”
-How to Be Happy All the Time

“Character building should be taught in schools and colleges.”
-Autobiography of a Yogi, p. 249

“Environment is stronger than will.”

“Correct methods of education consist of the development of intuition and the bringing of the hidden memory of all knowledge already existing in the soul, back into the plane of human consciousness. One lifetime is not a long enough time in which to learn all things of heaven and earth through the modern methods of education, and dependence upon the senses and mind. As a result of practicing the techniques of concentration and meditation as learned in the first Lessons, intuitive faculties are developed by which knowledge is grasped with extraordinary quickness.””

“From age 5 to 25 years. The child should receive concentrated character training and become instilled with spiritual ideals and habits. As he grows into adulthood, he should get a general education, learn efficiency by study and observation, and seek specialized training in some work to which he feels suited.”

“In ordinary study there is a vast difference between the methods applied by teachers in India and in the West. In the West, they pump into the brains of children the ideas, “How many books have you read; how many teachers have you had?” A man returned from college with a PhD. in making sugar from different fruits. He was asked if sugar could be made from the guava fruit. After some deep thought, he said, “I did not study that. It was not in my curriculum.” Using common sense was beyond him. It is not pumping from the outside in, that gives you knowledge. It is the power and largeness of receptivity within the determines how much and how quickly you can grasp knowledge. The man who has the power of receptivity quickly sees everything. An intelligent man lives far ahead of the idiot. All your experiences are measured in terms of the cup of your receptivity.”
-Quickening Human Evolution, 1929

“The door of intuition may become effectually closed through self-sufficiency and egotism, and too full dependence upon intellectual channels of education through inferential education. The knowledge which is obtained through mechanical schooling, sense experience, and one’s own power of inference, is necessarily limited.

Correct methods of education consist of the development of intuition and the bringing of the hidden memory of all knowledge already existing in the soul, back into the plane of human consciousness. One lifetime is not a long enough time in which to learn all things of heaven and earth through the modern methods of education, and dependence upon the senses and mind. As a result of practicing the techniques of concentration and meditation as learned in the first Lessons, intuitive faculties are developed by which knowledge is grasped with extraordinary quickness.

The education of intuition should start in childhood if possible. If such early training has not been received, begin now with yourself, and in addition try to give as much assistance to children and younger people as you can in right training methods.

Important items in the method are:

1. Walk and sit with an erect spine.

2. Learn and apply technique of concentration, thus developing your receptive powers of wisdom.

3. Practice daily meditation, with calmness and peaceful lovingness, and so contact God as Joy.

4. Expand your love from self-love, on up through family, social, national, international, to Divine Love in God, where you know that God has become everything and that all things are God vibrations.

As you develop, you spread good and truth everywhere. Your good counterbalances the appearance of evil about you.

Take care to protect your little plant of Self-Realization. Environment is of utmost importance. Do not let the animals of selfishness and wrong environment get through your protecting hedge and destroy your precious plant.”
-Praeceptum No. 87

Visit our Education for Life Schools

Below, you will find a series of class outlines that introduce the practice of meditation and the supporting life qualities to groups that include both parents and children. The basic principles are derived from Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, the traditional source of guidance on how to calm the mind from the yoga teachings of India. Many of the listed activities are drawn from For Goodness’ Sake, a book by Nitai Deranja

Introduction: The Dalai Lama has stated that “If every 8 year old in the world is taught meditation, we will eliminate violence from the world within one generation.” In Demystifying Patanjali (p.38) Swami Kriyananda wrote: “Fifteen minutes of this practice every day, engaged in by thousands, or even millions, of people throughout the world could uplift the whole planet.”

Opening Session: Can we do it? Let’s try to meditate for 5 minutes. Try to keep your mind focused at the point between the eyebrows. I’ll ring a bell every 30 seconds, and you can count 1 point for every time your mind is focused when the bell rings. If your mind wanders, gently bring it back to the point of concentration.

After the first effort we can see that concentration is not as easy as it might seem. The problem is restlessness. What is restlessness, and where does it come from? Patanjali helps us see that this outward-pulling force can be weakened by following the yamas and niyamas, guidelines for life that are quite similar to the Ten Commandments of the Old Testament and the Eight-fold Path of the Buddha. They help us see how we can become more relaxed and calm.

Session 1) non-lying and self-study (introspection and self-honesty)
Theme: Lying distorts our connection with the perfect flow of reality, Truth-telling reinforces our sense of oneness.

Activity: To Tell the Truth
Divide into groups of about 5, mixing adults and children, with each group choosing something that only one has done but that everyone in the group will claim to have done. Taking turns on stage, each group describes their chosen action with everyone answering questions from the audience about the action. Audience guesses who told the truth. Members of group describe what it felt like to lie.

Homework: Do whatever you say you’ll do for one day, even if it’s trivial like getting a drink of water. Report results the next day.

Session 2) non-stealing and non-covetousness; contentment and openness to higher truths
Theme: Stealing/Covetousness affirms that what we have is insufficient and that we need something to complete us. Acceptance brings us peace (even though acceptance could just be a first step before we need to put out energy to manifest things or respond to challenges).

Activity: Fortunately/Unfortunately (page 20, For Goodness’ Sake*)

Story: Everything always works out for the best (page 21-22, For Goodness’ Sake*)

Homework: Affirm acceptance of everything that happens for one day, especially if it’s unpleasant.

Session 3) non-sensuality; purity
Theme: The senses are tools for interacting with the physical world. When we let ourselves be controlled by them (instead of controlling them), we lose our centeredness and create agitation.

Activity: Gourmet’s Nightmare (page 54-55, For Goodness’ Sake*)

Homework: Experiment with fasting (partial/full/etc.) for one day

Session 4) non-violence; austerity
Theme: Violence results from anger/irritation/annoyance and affirms that we are unsatisfied with the flow of life and want it to be different.

Activity: Finding an animal/insect/plant/fish that you can follow, observe, and/or interact with for 10 minutes in a loving way

Homework: Spend a day blessing every being you come in contact with.

Extend the meditation each day.
First day: bell every 30 seconds
Second day: bell every 40 seconds
Third day: bell every 50 seconds
Fourth day: bell every 60 seconds=10 minutes, double day #1
At end of week; bell every 30 second to compare how far we’ve come since beginning

Aides to meditation: Straight, relaxed spine with chin up, eyes relaxed (closed or half open), visualization, counting breaths, mantra, chanting….

End each session with short period of yoga postures followed by deep relaxation in savasana, possibly with peaceful music background and/or guided meditation for 2-3 minutes.