Once a small boy said to me with much passion, ‘God is a feel, not a think’ and I thought: Wow! Children have such remarkable insight and directness.
There was a period when — as the author of the seven books of The Adventures of Odd and Elsewhere — I would be invited to schools and libraries in England and Ireland to tell stories about my two heroes. The children were about nine or ten, and time and again I found myself startled by their directness. On one occasion — with the whole school crowded into the hall, seated cross-legged on the floor — a small boy at the front asked: ‘Where do you get the ideas for your books?’ He said it with such urgency and I could sense the whole school waiting to hear how I would respond. In a flash I said to him, ‘Do you have a garden?’ He said ‘yes’. I then asked him what he grew in it. ‘Seeds’ he replied, ‘and they grow into plants.’
I knew then that I had my answer: ‘And I have seeds of ideas. I plant them in my books and they grow into stories!’ There was an audible sigh of satisfaction around the hall.
On another occasion I took along a very old teddy bear which had been given to me, one of the first ever made. It was dressed in a frock so I called her Harmony. At one school a small boy asked why she was called this, so I said ‘Why do you think?’ He paused for a few moments and then said, ‘Because she doesn’t harm anyone!’
And harmony means exactly that. It is the state into which — if we persevere with our practice of meditation — we arrive: we are at harmony within ourselves and so will never hurt or wound another, while also we become more awake to the needs of others.