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Current Update as of May 04, 2004

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Secrets of Children’s Spirituality

Secrets of Children’s Spirituality

Commentary by Henry Reed

One of my favorite childhood dreams, a recurrent one that I had when I was around seven or eight, is that I am conducting a symphony orchestra.

That would be a special experience in itself.

What makes this dream more interesting is that I am making up the music, note by note, as we go.

Almost like the wand that Mickey Mouse borrows from the Sorcerer, as I wave my baton, the music comes into being. In the dream, that is a thrilling experience.

What is even more interesting is that in the dream I am noticing that the orchestra seems to know what notes to play even though there are no notes until I wave them into being at that very moment.

In the dream I am puzzling over how the orchestra can play the notes at the very instant that I create them.

Years later I can see in this dream many of the themes

I've meditated upon in trying to come to a better understanding of a spiritual path that is natural to me, one that involves allowing improvisation to connect with a transpersonal source of creativity.

While my adult self can both appreciate and understand the dream, my childhood self experienced the wonder and awe of the dream, but did not have any understanding of its meaning or source.

Not all children, however, display the same lack the understanding of such experiences, according to Tobin Hart in his book The secret spiritual world of children (Inner Ocean Publishing).

He shares many stories of children seeming wise beyond their years, children who experience cosmic consciousness and understand its significance and use the experience to guide them throughout their lives.

The idea that children are close to God certainly comes through loud and clear in Hart's stories.

The children in his book have mystical experiences, visits by angels and other beings, they spontaneously offer healing words or touch to other children and adults, and they have psychic experiences of many varieties.

An account of these experiences comprises only the first half of the book. He devotes the second half of his book to providing guidance to parents.

There he skillfully weaves together insights for both parent and child as they attempt to respond to such experiences.

Spirituality is a mixed blessing, for while it may open the child to the secrets of the universe, such knowledge can also be a burden on the child.

Adults face similar challenges and the parents may find their own spiritual issues mirrored in the struggles of the child. A vision of one's mission in life may also create pressure to succeed.

Being given extraordinary insights, visits from angels, and other non-ordinary encounters may make the child feel "special" and disinclined to make the mortal efforts in life required of the rest of us.

Awareness of invisible worlds that no one else can see can make a person, child or adult, feel alienated from others.

Balancing heaven and earth is difficult, regardless of a person's age.

Psychic experiences offer their own special challenges and they are quite similar for both children and adults.

Precognitive experiences, for example, especially about unfortunate events, can make the experiencer feel somehow guilty, as if knowledge of an event creates responsibility for it.

Telepathic sensitivity can confuse a person's sense of self, requiring effort to discern one's own feelings from those of others.

Balancing individuality with inter-connectedness is a lifelong riddle that requires the development of a stable ego, content enough to remain calmly in the background.

The child's experience becomes a teacher for the parents as they endeavor to respond appropriately to the child.

Tobin's advice to parents seems to revolve around two key principles. The first is that the parent should endeavor to respond matter of factly to the child's reports.

While it might seem inconceivable to us that we might deny the child's reality, making too big a deal of it can be equally harmful.

The second, and more challenging, principle is for parents to cultivate a good relationship with their own spirituality and not vicariously live through their children.

Although he allows for the probability that our species is evolving, he expresses some reserve about such concepts as "Indigo children."

He argues, alternatively, that children have always had a secret spiritual life.

It is the parents, he suggests, that are now highly interested in spirituality and have become aware of its existence in their children.

The children may seem "special" in the parents' eyes, but this perception may be a compensating projection of the parents' own sad alienation from their own spiritual inner child.

The child's spirituality often needs some help with incarnating into the workaday world.

Parents who can embrace this need and provide a family atmosphere in which all parties are collaborating to bring heaven into earth seems to create the best classroom for the lessons spiritual experiences bring to the home.

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