There was a huge open grassy land at the back of our house. It was our wide playground. Kids in our neighborhood play all sorts of Filipino traditional games and even some western ones such as football and softball. It was then our summer escapade. We had our fun adventures under the sun, trekking through the woods, being chased by angry dogs, climbing mango trees and eating halo-halo. Those summer vacations were among the best part of my childhood. When I found myself after years of growing up, I had felt that nostalgia, missing those long gone days when everything was carefree and child-like. I just thought I could never ever return it.
I was wrong. As I grew up, there were many qualities of a young child that I still keep. I enjoyed playing and dancing in the rain, daydreaming many things, talking to myself, and experimenting many ideas. That inner child was not lost, only took another form in my adult days. I was daring to swim against the tide of others’ opinion, like a kid daring for new adventures. Choosing a different path by veering away from my former profession, I rediscovered a new world of writing, teaching, spirituality and Love, which I have been now unfolding through Pathfinders’ Commune.
I again recalled an old koan-like riddle from my former high school history teacher. It was a puzzling and brutal riddle: “If you want to change this world, kill every adult in the world and leave every child aged 2 years or below and take good care of them.” I was a 16 year old student at the time and that outrageously horrifying idea ignited my curiosity. I wanted to change the world and started to shape that possibility in my wild imagination. But that would be absolutely impossible. It took me some 12 years before a metaphorical answer dawned on me. The riddle means that to change the world, you must kill the limiting adult mind and nourish the child’s mind. Thanks to my old teacher, he taught me to think beyond what is literal.
In each of us, there is a child’s soul longing to be recognized. Yet our adulthood is telling of our own neglect of this inner child. We have even extended that neglect to children themselves. Our modern society has robbed children their opportunity to become children. Because of parents subduing children’s curiosity and creativity by instilling them fears and threats, they have grown up afraid and hateful of learning. Because of schools teaching them to compete with others to achieve the best grades and highest honors, children have learned to perpetuate a dog-eat-dog world. Because of industrialized and money-centered systems, children are forced to work like adults, often in many unsafe environments. Because of moralistic vehemence of conservative religions, the health and welfare of these children and their mothers are neglected, all in the name of doctrine and dogma. We are yet to learn our lessons in protecting and helping our children, which only becomes possible if we are ready enough to nurture our inner child.
We make it whole when we courageously awaken our inner child, the purest consciousness of Love. This is the only path to transform the world.
Often, I cannot avoid being annoyed of seeing current TV programs that portray many children who behave like adults. Because of money-making and fame, these children actors are pushed by adults to play characters and scenes that are usually relegated to adults: pageantries, rivalries, sexualized portrayals, romantic tensions, foul plays etc. The formulaic plots of many TV dramas have tolerated a modern image of childhood, one that devalues the qualities that characterize the true nature of being a child – innocence, friendship, creativity, curiosity, playfulness. The insanity of our adulthood conditioned by our pessimistic and cynical values has become the basis of how we “train” our children to live and become. Until we learn how to return to our inner child, we will continue to put our children in this fragmented and perilous realities.
In one of poignant teaching scenes of Jesus, instead of telling a parable, he brought to his disciples a living example: a child. The greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven is the one who humbles himself and becomes like this child. And whoever welcomes in my name one such child as this, welcomes me. (Matthew 18:4-5) This teaching is a direct response to the essential call of life: returning to our inner child is to access the wisdom of the infinite presence we call in many sacred names. Only the question is how to become a child. Should one become childish and play all day without taking care of daily concerns? Being a child is far from that recklessness. One must discern the difference.
The best clarification was rendered by the late Zen master Shunryu Suzuki. His premise can be condensed into two words: beginner’s mind. I have found that by seeing life with a mind of beginning, of mystery, of openness, there is a discovery of richness of life itself. Aren’t these the ways children perceive life? As my new friend Surf said, “children are the true spiritual masters”. Their most pristine vulnerability is what brings them to an overwhelming experience of Love. We cannot help but Love the children of our lives, for they remind us our Loving potentials. To see and care for them is just half of the entire picture. We make it whole when we courageously awaken our inner child, the purest consciousness of Love. This is the only path to transform the world.