Spirituality and mysticism: becoming as children: unclouded, innocent awareness
A book excerpt from the spiritandflesh.com religion and spirituality online library.
What is it to be a child? It is to look out at the world and see it as a series of great, dancing, phantasmagorical, kaleidoscopic magical vistas, all of which exist prior to the adult-erated compartmentalization and stultification of the singular, bewildering show.
Sam Keen remarks: "What exactly do we mean when we speak of the wonder of the child? What does the experience look and taste like? Wonder, in the child, is the capacity for sustained and continued delight, marvel, amazement, and enjoyment. It is the capacity of the child to approach the world as if it were a smorgasbord of potential delights, waiting to be tasted. It is the sense of freshness, anticipation, and openness that rules the life of a healthy child. The world is a surprise party, planned just for me, and my one vocation in life is to enjoy it to the fullest- such is the implicit creed of the wondering child. Reality is a gift, a delight, a surprise- in fact, a toy; it is an excessive, superabundant cafeteria of delights, and should any experience begin to be jaded by boredom and staleness, all one has to do is move on to the next. To wonder is to live in the world of novelty rather than law, of delight rather than obligation, and of the present rather than the future."
Aha! What a world indeed. And how odd it is that a child experiences it as he or she does, and adults experience it so differently, and yet it is the same world. It seems obvious, therefore, that it is not the world which requires fixing, it is our perspective of it.
It is the child's inherent receptivity to the miraculousness and inexplicability of all that he or she confronts in life that brings the child into direct intimacy with what existence actually is- mystery. And it is the walls of mind which are built up between the growing person and that very Mystery which creates the mental gulf and painful lack of intimacy experienced by adults.
"This is the rapture of real Being! Innocence is the inner sense of the little child, one with the Spirit of God."
Thomas Traherne's classic description of this observation runs as follows: "Is it not strange that an infant should be heir of the whole world, and see those mysteries which the books of learned men never unfold? ...[As a child] all appeared new, and strange at first, inexpressibly rare and delightful and beautiful. ...The green trees when I first saw them...transported and ravished me, their sweetness and unusual beauty made my heart to leap, and almost mad with ecstasy, they were such strange and wonderful things. The Men! O what venerable and reverend creatures did the aged seem! Immortal Cherubims! And young men glittering and sparkling Angels, and maids strange seraphic pieces of life and beauty. Boys and girls tumbling in the street and playing, were moving Jewels. ...The city seemed to stand in Eden. ...Eternity was manifest in the Light of Day, and something infinite behind everything appeared. ...I knew no churlish properties, nor bounds, nor divisions...so that with much ado I was corrupted, and made to learn the dirty devices of this world. Which now I unlearn, and become, as it were, a little child again that I may enter into the Kingdom of God."
"For me it is enough to wonder at the secrets."
It is likely the case that not all of us have retained such vivid memories of childhood wonder as Traherne, however there seems to be a consistent recognition amongst most of us about the amazingness and freshness which was part of our daily lives as children. We remember at least that to have been a child, was to experience awe.
Similarly to Traherne, Carl Jung relates his experience of infancy: "One memory comes up which is perhaps the earliest of my life. ...I am lying in a pram, in the shadow of a tree. It is a fine, warm summer day, the sky blue, and the golden sunlight darting through the green leaves. The hood of the pram has been left up. I have just awakened to the glorious beauty of the day, and have a sense of indescribable well-being. I see the sun glittering through the leaves and blossoms of the bushes. Everything is wholly wonderful, colorful, and splendid."
Along with Traherne and Jung we can accept that as children we often stood aghast in front of some crazy, mysterious object or happening, like a bug, a flower, or a television, only then to 'grow up' (if I may use this misnomer) and begin to brand these magical happenings with labels, and in the process learn to become ever more and more oblivious to their marvels.
Perhaps this is why Christ stated blatantly, "Unless you become as children, you shall not enter the Kingdom of Heaven." For the Child sees without preconceptions, facts, or theories: the child sees 'what is', and this 'what is', when divorced from our 'fallen' way of seeing it, is the Kingdom of Heaven.
"The willingness to become as a little child is a primal prelude to spiritual birth, and an essential requisite toward entrance into the kingdom of God. …This kingdom is attained through repudiating the fallacies of mortal sense
based on appearances"
Eom Ida Mingle.
Furthermore- entering now into a little bit of esotericism here- the Child, you will recall, is the outcome (that is, comes out) of the immaculate conception. The implication of this is obvious: so as to be 'born again' we must return to what we were (that is, to innocence)- by becoming ignorant, or virginal, of all that is. That is when we give birth to the child within ourselves (we are twice-born).
Eom Ida Mingle, in her heretical orthodoxy, describes this process as such: "...the virginity of consciousness gained is translated into the form and being of the Son. ...[For by] refusing to know the ways of men...the virginal consciousness gained the operation of the Way of God which is Christ. ...Renunciation of the good and evil of mortal sense alone makes for the revealment of the virgin...and lifts man into the Edenic bliss of his divine innocence of consciousness. ...[That is,] the Virgin in Christ functions the divine ego and gives birth to himself or herself. ...one puts on the virgin consciousness and is born of the Spirit into the Kingdom of God."
We are dealing here with a little known event, and so the bounds of reason and reasonableness must now be stretched if the new thought is going to exit the womb. What happens in the sublime realm of the spirit is that a person who becomes virginal becomes open to impregnation from the Spirit, and then gives birth. And though the birth is real, it is a spiritual birth, and therefore is not located on the material plane.
"…the virgin forever a virgin, forever pregnant,
forever open to possibilities."
Thus the individual, having become virginal, is impregnated, becoming a mother, and then gives birth, and the child born is also the very same individual. So in one and the same individual is the virgin, mother, and child, and the pieta is complete.
This is a truly awkward consideration to grasp, and can neither be proven nor disproven by reason or logic, for it must be experienced.
What happens is a mystical event- a spiritual birth.
Neville comments: "It is a personal mystical experience of the birth of oneself out of one's own skull..."
And Aleister Crowley exalts this two-in-one relationship as such: "I praise the luxuriant Rapture of Innocence, the virile and pantomorphous Ecstasy of All-Fulfillment; I praise the Crowned and Conquering Child whose name is Force and Fire, whose subtlety and strength make sure serenity, whose energy and endurance accomplish The Attainment of The Virgin of the Absolute..."
Again, not only are the Virgin and Child co-substantial, but the Mother and the Child exist inexplicably together as well. Osho describes this contradictory non-duality as such: "...a second birth happens. In this birth you are both- you are the mother and you are the child. You alone are both together. You are born, but there is no separate mother and there is no separate child. You are taking birth, and you are also giving birth; your birth is happening through you."
Hence there is a transformation happening in the individual: becoming virginal of mind brings forth the divine impregnation, creating a mother who births the child.
This is an event which occurs as the soul evolves and prepares to grow beyond the confines of this material plane. And it is a real event, even though it cannot be observed by anyone other than the one to whom it is happening.
This digression on esoteric metaphysics we will have to leave behind, however, and continue on with the theme of the innocent child.
Kahn provides us with a gentle transition back, stating: "The easiest way for the genius [to come to god-consciousness] is to make himself an empty cup, free from pride of learning or conceit of knowledge; to become as innocent as a child, who is ready to learn whatever may be taught to him. It is the soul who becomes as a child before God ...who becomes a fountain of God."
Indeed it is wonder which occurs naturally to and through the child, because the child is not burdened with wonderless knowledge.
"My Guru told me: that child, which is you even now, is your real self. Go back to that state of pure being, where the 'I am' is still in its purity before it got contaminated with 'this I am' or 'that I am'."
Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj
And so if, as it is said, God is Unknowable, then it is knowledge which prevents one's perception of God the Mystery, and this is why childlike perception is essential, because any perspective which does not see mystery does not see God. Along the lines of this recognition, John Claypool suggests how we arrive at such a place; he states: "This is ecstasy. To be caught up out of one's self in joy over some reality is exactly the sort of experience God wants each one of us to have, for remember we are made in his image, and [this]...is our true destiny. Right here is where the creativity of life is to be found- when we let 'the child within us' out to play and to leap and to celebrate."
To 'become as children', then, is to see everything as new, to fall into wonder, to play in the moment, and to give up the pretense of knowing.
The trick, though, is not to become children again, but to become like children; to let go of all grown-up pride and understanding, and to let the magic of existence return.
Osho describes this process about one who has become innocent again; this person, he says, "has come to know that nothing can be known, that knowledge is impossible, that ignorance is the very nature of existence because it is a mystery. In his ignorance he has become relaxed. He rests in his ignorance. He has become innocent like a child."
To 'become as children' merely requires the art of forgetting, for it is only the useless things we have learned which stand between us and the unknowable, and once they are cast aside, nothing remains to obstruct It.
And it is only the Doubting Thomas within us which cannot accept the possibility of a return to mind boggling wonder- as it was with the disciple who doubted that it was possible to be reborn again, to enter into the womb for a second time. And yet that is the very problem: trying to conceive of the inconceivable, which is a vicious circle from which there is no escape. The mind creates the walls, and the mind defends them, and it is only after the hubris of thought has dwindled to nothing that the soul becomes youthful again.
"A child said What is the grass?
fetching it to me with full hands;
How could I answer the child?
I do not know what it is
any more than he."
Speaking of his youthful inwardness, the well-humbled Prince Myshkin (from Dostoyevsky's The Idiot) unabashedly declared: "[My doctor]...was quite convinced I was an absolute child, that is to say, I resembled a grown-up only in stature and face; in development, spirit and nature, and perhaps even in mind, I was not an adult at all, and would remain that way even if I lived to be sixty."
To come to this place of innocence, like Myshkin, we must relinquish all sense of propriety, responsibility, accomplishment, knowledge, success, honor, and need. We must return to the unquestioned trust of a child in the midst of all things magical, for: "When you become the rigid, unyielding adult who is lost to the ability to embrace the imaginative and non-judgmental nature of the child within, then you become lost to the sense of wonder and playfulness that you are intended to experience", states a 'channeled' version of Jesus' teachings.
To become new of mind at every moment, is to forget all we have learned, and to begin to see the world as if for the very first time; unless we do this we are doomed to continue to see life in the profane, linear, fragmented and fragmenting way we have been taught, and never to see it as the brilliant, spirited, genuine drama of the free and unknowable Spirit to which we entirely belong.
And so, the door to heavenly wonder can only be opened, contends Pila Chiles, with "A key that can only be turned by the child. ...One who has had the courage to embrace innocence again and regain the power, the childlike wonderment. ...This is the innocence that explores the world...bringing back the joy which is the pure excitement of living in our Maker's creation."
"The more you know, the more you feel how ignorant you are.
And those who are really wise, they become ignorant.
They become as simple as children or as simple as idiots."
Let us end this chapter with Oscar Wilde's splendid proclamation of the necessity of our regressional evolution. He states: "It will be a marvelous thing- the true personality of man- when we see it. It will grow naturally and simply, flowerlike, or as a tree grows. It will not be at discord. It will never argue or dispute. It will not prove things. It will know everything. And yet it will not busy itself about knowledge. It will have wisdom. ...The personality of man will be very wonderful. It will be as wonderful as the personality of a child."
Note: this excerpt is not intended to be a description of Indigo Children, nor of their spiritual capacities, which go beyond innocence. It is merely claimed here that innocence of mind is the window through which we can all experience an awakening.
(excerpted from THE WAY OF WONDER: a return to the mystery of ourselves, by Jack Haas)