I have some very fond memories of a quiet weekend afternoon, sitting in the patio and listening to wind chimes sounding pleasantly as the wind gently evokes a chorus. Meandering thoughts strike me as I relax in a semi nap attending to the peacefulness of the moment. More often than not as a child, there were many times that we could enjoy the days without the worry of some troublesome problem. Some of the most pleasurable memories seem to come from a time when our worry factor was minimized and our experience of the world was heightened. The “Ignorance is Bliss” argument can be yielded, and for obvious reasons this assertion is often exerted, but this author is not in complete agreement with this notion, and to the contrary subscribes to mastering ones rational and emotional states as the better choice. I hold much more value in the education and development of a person achieving mastery over one’s circumstance than to rely on ignorance itself as a prescription for a happier less worrisome life.
We are now in the “Age of Anxiety”, in that we as people are defined by the information age, we as people are defined by the technology of the day, and that we as people are defined by the diagnosis of our medical ailments. Children for the most part do not worry about the social implications of what governs the society. They are more concerned with their own lives within their family structures. They deal with navigating their own family’s mores and how it affects them. Children navigating their own way through every day problems has been minimized by increased parental involvement in the last few decades. In general a child of earlier decades was much more “free” from a parental influence on many common experiences growing up even though ironically the parents were more commonly at home during that time. Despite this background my experience was largely based on discovering my way through by trial and error without parental or sibling interaction. I had to rely on resources I alone discovered which was an impediment at times due to the struggle with my own particular ego-frailties and self-esteem. But before some of these issues would bring themselves to light, as a child my immersion into the world was purer in form as an experience without all the previously mentioned attitude distractions. The phenomenon of meeting the world in a purer experience is a remarkable experience. If you have ever watched children play, the observance of their relation to the world is astonishing, and is a very natural way of being. Devoid of worry, one’s relation to the world without barriers heightens one’s experience. The case for children being more in touch with their experience in the world without worry can be advanced.
Of course this is not always true, but the ability to focus on the present as a child was much easier for me than it is for me as an adult. I noticed as I aged, by the time of my adolescence I began to become more aware of the world and how I fit in. Many of the psychological barriers I had to overcome were the thoughts that one may not be good enough, the kind of self thoughts that prevent us from taking action spontaneously and thus these “Growing Pains” tended to fend off my natural tendencies and delayed my actions until my comfort level was stabilized. This natural ability without self-censorship seems to fade with the matriculation into adulthood for many of us and it will take practice to once again regain that listening skill without the self-doubt and ego related issues that prevent us from acting correspondingly. Attention to what is in front of us is often disregarded because of all of our agendas, calendars, and chores in many of our lives today. Parent, care-giver, balance of family and work and self are all part of the equation that we deal with from a day-to-day schedule. This has always been true for generations, but today we find ourselves amidst a host of distractions with added technologies that make it even easier to pull ones attention away for the surrounding milieu.
The loss of innocence can take a toll on those who do not heed. The loss in question is the cultural dictates that often persuade us to think about other factors of our lives whilst not giving your full attention to the business at hand. I think that the stillness of our minds attuned to our present moments can bring about a resonating harmony with the nature of things. If even only for the recognition of a previous fond memory of a distant past, then we can benefit from such an accordance forming this bond that we may not have the pleasure to enjoy otherwise.
The skill to pay attention to those you listen with, the skill you prove when you listen and not just hear the other person without any personal commentary is a testament to how powerful that skill is in your social life, and to how you see the world in the moment. Employing this skill will serve one well because people will take notice. Some may respond correspondingly, and some may not, but they will take notice. The same principle applies to our own minds watchful judgements. We are ultimately in control over how we feel or think about the events we meet and how we receive them as experience.
The existence of joyful experiences to remember are those events that we break from the fear of judgmental social stigmas. Think of the first time you danced with others without fear of judgement, or when you first performed on stage in front of others somehow subduing your jitters but still “the show must go on!” The heightening of our experience lies in the pureness of that experience. The taming of our minds can be very powerful and a function that we have control over. In every phase of aging, there are plateau’s of experience that place you in new territory. And with every age we come to meet new experiences that shape and develop our remembrance of it when they happen. I think that we are most fond of those times that we meet the world on terms that do not relinquish to worry, renounce to fear or some other undermining emotion that strips us from the experience outside of our defining it with more emotional baggage.
This is why Buddhism created and developed the Eightfold Path.
The understanding of how we affect our experience with the world and our relation to it is a primary fundamental starting point. Returning to how the child naturally meets the world is very Buddhist. The nature of the child’s mind does not impose many of the doctrines that we as adults subject to it before our experience takes place. So I ask the reader, what makes your experiences special? Do you remember times that seemed to be were more pure from your childhood than times in your adulthood? If this is so, than shall we seek to sustain that kind of experience in our lives today? Seems to be a daunting task for some of us, yet one that cannot easily be dismissed. Look to your memories, look to your children, look to see that we all are able to meet a world in the absence with worry, no matter at what phase of life!