It’s a given that children have a playful and joyous nature — so much a given, in fact, that the reasons behind it are hardly considered. Let’s effect a bit of change right now, and do some examination of the reasons why children are playful and joyous.
The guess from here is that most people — most adults at least — believe that the happy nature of children has to do with their not having problems or significant responsibilities. I disagree with this thinking.
Certainly children have responsibilities, and while cleaning a bedroom or getting up in the morning to go to school may not seem to be a significant responsibility to an adult, a child may find it quite significant indeed. Children also have problems — a skinned knee or something more dramatic — and again, a child may find these problems significant where an adult does not.
In cases like this who’s right and who’s wrong? Both sides are right: the child’s outlook is that their problems and responsibilities are significant; the adult’s outlook is that the child’s problems and responsibilities are not significant. It’s simply a matter of perspective.
So if we respect the child’s perspective and allow that they do have significant problems and responsibilities, from their outlook at least, then a lack of significant problems and responsibilities does not explain their playful and joyous nature. What does then?
Children have not yet formed the habit of allowing thinking to drag them into the past or the future. Children live in the present moment, the now. The appearance of malaise for people typically starts in the teen, or even preteen, years. This is when cultural shaping about the significance of time sets in and people begin spending more and more time in thought about future or past.
What am I going to wear tomorrow? It was mean of Jimmy to say that to me last week. I looked like a total idiot when I tripped yesterday. People are going to think I’m gross when they see my acne outbreak tomorrow.
This pattern of living in past or future continues on into physical maturity, into adulthood, into old age, and can ultimately take a quite heavy toll. Feelings of being overwhelmed, of being constantly under duress, set in. It seems stress and problems are everywhere, nearly all the time, and there’s no apparent escape. For some people the out is drug or drink, or even to depart the life experience altogether through death.
There’s another option. Go back to being a child…
I don’t mean by this that you should carry a slingshot in a back pocket or play with dolls or skip everywhere you go. I mean remain consciously in the present moment and stop thinking.
Jesus is quoted as saying, Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.
Children are in perfect alignment with enlightened existence: they do not block out their internal Light Of Being through living in the past or the future, or through thinking. They exist in the now, where Divinity (God if you prefer) resides, and anyone who does not live in the enlightened way that children do will see their internal Light Of Being blocked.
They will lock themselves out from the kingdom of God.