How can we be children?

We are all familiar with the moving image of Jesus placing a small child in front of his disciples and counselling them that unless they changed and became like little children, they would not enter heaven. We might ask, though, how is that change to be accomplished? What do we have to do to become a child again? In the meaning of the wise, what IS a child?

One notable quality of the very young is innocence, a word that can mean guilelessness, or a lack of hidden motive. Hazrat Inayat Khan tells us that innocence is a sign of the purity of the heart. When the heart is not covered over with thoughts of ‘me’ – what Hazrat Inayat calls the rust of the heart – then the mirror is bright and the heart reflects the divine light clearly. Therefore, to become like little children does not mean to become infantile, but to become pure of the self-preoccupation that habitually clouds our mind and heart. When our thoughts and feelings are purified in this way, the intention to harm vanishes, and that is, in fact, the origin of the word ‘innocent’, for in English, at least, it comes from a Latin root meaning without harm, or not hurting. And of course, a heart without harm in it is also loving, and the love of a child, direct and simple, is a spiritual lesson in itself.

The counsel of Jesus was given, we are told, in response to a question as to who is the greatest in the heavenly kingdom. Perhaps that is why the Master told the disciples they had to ‘change’ – for such a question, although well-intended, contains a seed of ego in it. Any system of ranking inevitably includes a place for ourselves – ‘I may not be the greatest in the kingdom, but perhaps I come in the top ten or twenty.’ And even if we come at the very bottom, at least we are in the same league as the greatest! So, if we sometimes ponder just where we are on the spiritual path – whether we are making progress, and when we can expect the divine bolt of illumination to fall on our heads – we can at least console ourselves that we are making the same misguided inquiries as the disciples of Jesus.

3 Replies to “How can we be children?”

  1. Sharifa

    I am making this comment from the experience I have as a mother. While is true that I had the intuition that my daughters’ hearts were not covered over with thoughts of ‘me’ when they were little children, and I did not observe the self-preoccupation that habitually clouded my mind and heart when raising them–and maybe that self-preoccupation is still with me, it was my impression that they behaved as if they were the center of the universe. How do we understand this paradox?

    • Nawab Pasnak Post author

      Dear Sharifa, they were/are the center of the universe. So are you.
      Living with that paradox is to recognise Divinity.

  2. Sharifa

    Thank you, dearest Nawab, for your insights. Maybe the day we/I recognize Divinity we/I will stop trying to “prove” we/I are/am the center of the universe. Thank you for this piece of wisdom.


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