“How would we treat a child Buddha?” is the question posed in my novel, The Miracle of Anna. Anna, born totally awakened, is not a child on whom her mother or others can influence or imprint their own mental and psychological biases. All too often parents and objective observers watch the spiritual spark, the bright eyes of our infants and young children, get extinguished by our mental orientation. Some parents even send their children to genius school at age 3 or give them iPhones at age 6.
We perpetuate our own madness or disconnection from spirit by developing in or imposing on our children our models for success. We want our children to be winners of the future, and for some parents, they’d rather see them become unhappy lawyers than kindergarten teachers — or worse, spiritual adepts. So, how would we treat at every level a child who just looks back at us and shakes their head?
“No, that’s not my path.”
While parents might tolerate intellectual rebels, thinking of a future Steve Jobs, they would probably take a child who prefers to meditate and paint pictures of ethereal beings to a child psychologist. I mean, children who report seeing angels or dead grandparents are met with kindly, if not hostile, refutations and told it’s just their imagination. Childhood psychosis is a most-feared diagnosis. Parents would probably prefer handicapped children to what some might consider “spiritually deranged.”
Anna’s very beingness refutes these superficial tags. Her calm, peaceful presence deflects such concerns. Later in the story, when she demonstrates her extraordinary abilities, like whisking others to spiritual dimensions, she confronts a school board up in arms by such reports. She doesn’t “argue” with them, perform “miracles,” or buy into their fears. She just quietly answers their questions, and the purity of her being wins them over.
Fortunately, her mother Maggie is the spiritual devotee of an American Hindu guru who, in fact, prophesied Anna’s birth and sanctity. But this scenario presents another set of challenges for the awakened child and her guardian. In such communities, everybody is alert to the birth of an avatar or a Buddha, and such parents might project onto their newborns these hopes and dreams, which can be just as alienating.
As a school teacher, Maggie has limited resources, and her guru, Ma hi’ Ma, arranges for one of her wealthy devotees to award Anna’s mother a monthly stipend. This comes in handy until Maggie discovers Ma’s underlying wishes. She wants them to move to her ashram in northern California, where Anna can be raised as a future Krishnamurti. Maggie resists and turns down future payments to “go it on her own.” Later, the child Anna reinforces this directive to choose her own path, although in the end she does get initiated by choice as a Hindu Swamini.
While those with spiritual aspirations might object to the worldly ambitions for children harbored by some parents, they might not see their own spiritual projections as something similar. While they may name their children Starchild, Jesus, or Mohammad, they don’t see the implied mandate. Both sides are treating their children as blank slates to write their own hopes and dreams on. But, children are not empty — they come in with a spiritual consciousness that usually gets compromised early on.
This is not to say that parents are to sit back and give them free rein. What I think is needed is something similar to child psychologist Jean Paget’s “stage-specific” directive, or that children need to pass through specific stages in their development and that one stage must be completed before moving to the next. In Anna’s case and with all children, I think their inborn spiritual consciousness needs time to get rooted before they develop their ego minds.
While Anna, modeled after the Hindu saint Anandamayi Ma, who grew up in rural India and was unschooled, would move in this direction, she listens to her spirit guide Joseph and her mother and allows her “talky” self to develop later — but only after her objective awareness or “watcher” self, as some call it, is firmly in place. This allows her to develop her mind but not at the expense of her overriding consciousness.
Although Book I just takes Anna up to her seventh year, how would such an awakened child or other such children eventually affect society? Again, we are apt to project our own bias onto such an influence. Would we want them to be political rebels like Gandhi and defy a secular empire, or be the founder of a great religion like the Mormon Joseph Smith, or be a pop singer with a spiritual mission spreading their light in the entertainment world?
Our society is prejudiced toward doers and would expect such a luminary to be one. But, the pure beingness of Hindu saints like Ramakrishna, Anandamayi Ma, and Ramana Maharshi transformed their worlds one believer at a time. The very being of a modern luminary like my Anna would counteract the collective mindset of her era and “do what must be done,” or what can be done in such an irreligious age. So, I wouldn’t expect awakened children to “improve” our world but create pockets within it of a new or coming world where spiritual consciousness reigns.