Conditioning Determines Character

This conversation happened last night with one of my 10-year-old student. This is an important lesson not only for students, but for all parents as well. Remember that conditioning determines one’s character.


S: William, before we go into today’s lesson, I want to talk to you about someone who is in the foreign track of my school.

T: Okay, I’m listening.

S: I met this girl on the playground earlier today - she lives in the same community - and she was very unfriendly to me.

T: What makes you think that?

S: Well, I tried talking to her and she asked me whether or not I’m in the local track. After I nodded, she just didn’t look at me. I showed her how to climb the monkey bars and in return she said, “That’s nothing!” Why is she like that?

T: First of all, it’s not your fault. It’s not her fault either. It is her parents’ fault.

S: How come?

T: Parents have this imagined social distinction - how much money you have, where do you live, what kind of people you are, and all that. This division creates jealousy, envy, and greed amongst your surrounding. You see, this is another problem with school these days. You put a child into a good school, and you invite these kinds of people into the child’s conditioning. And when you go into the other end of the spectrum, and put the kid into a regular school, you have different sets of issues - illiterate students, uneducated parents who physically abuse their kids. This is why it is important for children to know the two sides of the world. Only then you can decide what you want to do - and it is usually neither of the two. So it’s a good start that you’re aware of this and you’re willing to talk about it with me.

S: It seemed she considers me like an ant.

T: Don’t judge anyone. It’s just your thought that is trying to convince you. So how’s your poem contest?

S: Well, that is another thing I wanted to talk about. I got top four but one of the student gave his poem to our English teacher thru WeChat, so he got in without any consideration. And the three of us must compete for the other place.

T: So only two out of four will be picked?

S: Yes, to represent our class and compete against the whole school.

T: Okay and why are you concerned about this?

S: Umm, I’m just disappointed that boy did what he did. I feel heartbroken.

T: What is your goal in all of this?

S: I just want to be in the top three.

T: Why do you want to compete and be in the top three?

S: Miss T. gives us extra points when we’re able to do well in competitions and things.

T: So your teacher actually encourages participation?

S: Yup.

T: And why are you chasing points?

S: (Shrugging both shoulders) Don’t know!

T: See? This is why I stopped competing after I realize that competition does nothing to increase my self-development. When you compete, you are conditioning yourself to be better than others. You get pleasure when your desire comes true, and you’ll be disappointed when it does not. When you compete, you have no idea what you want, and what is good or not good for you. You’re just following other people.

S: But if I don’t compete, what am I suppose to do?

T: You have to walk your own path. Swim your own race. When you compete, the people you’re competing against will do things that are outside of the rules. Some will cheat, while others know their ways to pat teachers or judges, and do other monkey business for that matter.

S: Well, I don’t want to do any monkey business. I just want everyone to do things honestly.

T: The truth is, the world is not perfect - as I’ve explained to you about the social distinction before. And now you’ve caught yourself in the midst of competition. But you know what, even though the world is not an honest and fair place, you can be fair and honest. Because if you don’t...do you know what will happen?

S: I’ll be just like them.

T: Bingo! Okay, let’s begin our lesson today.