Thursday, February 12, 2009


Children have a special place in all the wisdom traditions of the world. They have an expression of innocence and trust and joy. The gospel according to Saint Luke says that people brought their babies to Jesus Christ, asking him to place his hands on them in blessing. When his disciples tried to prevent the people from approaching their teacher, Jesus said: "Let the children come to me. Do not stop them because the kingdom of god belongs to them. Remember this! Whoever does not receive the kingdom of god like a child will never enter it."
In a child, the thought of the ego, the first primal I-thought is present only at an extremely small level, identification with the body; the mind or the intellect is absent.
As we grow older, these identifications result in misery, unhappiness and suffering. That is why; we often rue the passing of childhood. The primal I-thought is responsible for reinforcing the notion of I-am-the-door, I-am-the-body, I-am-the-ego or I-am-the-intellect.
All these identifications result in suffering as they bring with them desire and attachment. The phenomenal world is mistaken for reality. The child is the father of man because the child does not suffer from ego, identity or fear-the characteristic concomitants of adulthood. That is why there is something divine in the innocence and care freeness of a child.
Maharishi, looking at a child in the prayer hall, reportedly remarked: "One can attain the blind of Brahman only when the mind becomes pure and humble, like the mind of this child."
The image of the child in world scripture is therefore a powerful symbol of purity, innocence, simplicity and humility. As Saint Augustine said: "Let your old-age be childlike and your childhood like old age; so that neither may your wisdom be with pride, nor your humility without wisdom."

Sri Ramakrishna affirmed the same counsel when he said: "So long as one does not become simple like a child, one does not get divine illumination. Forget all the worldly knowledge that thou has acquired and become as ignorant as a child and then you will get divine wisdom. Swami Armadas recollects that: "When we were children we were innocent. But there was in us a seed of ignorance which grew as we grew, and finally over-powering us, cast away our innocent nature and led us astray. We were thereafter caught in the toils of desire and action and we move in a vicious circle of transitory pleasure and pain. It is necessary to hand ourselves over to the Divine and through his grace burn up the seed which is the cause of our misery and bondage and regain our lost childhood. Once we get it back, it cannot be taken away from us. The burnt seed does not germinate. We will remain pure children for all our lives."
We find similar evocations in the Buddhist tradition as well: "Abandon thought and thinking", said sage Sarah, "Be just like a child. Be devoted to your master's teaching and the Innate will become manifest." Do have the heart and soul of a little child. A Tibetan master declares that the pupil "must regain the child state he hath lost before the sound can fall upon his ears."
In a way the divine musician sings to us through the purity of the hearts of children-we can hear Him if we only listen. So, the way to enlightenment lies in rediscovering the child in ourselves.

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