Ancient Hindu literature is filled with tales of avatars born totally awakened. In The Aitareya Upanishad (translation Eknath Easwaran), a passage reads, “The sage Vamadeva declared of old: ‘While dwelling in the womb, I understood the birth of all the gods . . .’ He emerged from his mother’s womb, fully illuminated, to live in abiding joy, and went beyond death.” While this was not the inspiration for my novel, The Miracle of Anna, about the birth of a totally awakened being in today’s world, it harkens back to an era when such a phenomenon was not unprecedented, to a world that envisioned such possibilities.
Actually I drew upon the early life of the Hindu saint Anandamayi Ma, who apparently was born totally aware. Later in life she told a devotee, “What I am, I have been from my infancy.” But most enlightened beings down through the ages have required sadhana or spiritual practices to arrive in this state. In the book Mystics, Masters, Saints, and Sages, Robert and Judyth Ullman encapsulate the journeys of the “Enlightened Ones” starting with Gautama, the Buddha. We all know the story of Prince Siddhartha, who was sheltered from the pain of the world and only learned of it in his twenties, renounced his privileged position and searched for a way to alleviate suffering for himself and all beings. The remaining tales tell of similar journeys, although a few of these sages were first awakened as children as was Ma, if not infants.
What I wanted to explore, through a soul capable of fending off the influences that turn the rest of us into outward-directed egos, is how we lost the spiritual spark that we were all born with, as William Wordsworth reminds us in Ode on Intimations of Immortality, “Trailing clouds of glory do we come from God, who is our home . . .” Or, as Ramtha exhorts us in his White Book, we are all godlike beings, the “I am, that I am,” which most leave unclaimed.
While the Buddha’s journey was the culmination of the 554 past lives he later recalled, the rest of us unenlightened ones, who know not “from whence we came,” seek to retain a smidgen of illumination for ourselves and hopefully to guide our children on their own paths “home” in a world increasingly filled with distractions and mind games. I mean, as adults and more “mindful” of this brew, we struggle to stay afloat amidst the modern electronic flotsam, so how are we to help infants grow into children and then young adults who retain that spiritual spark?
I’m sure Ken Wilber with his soaring intellect might add a lot to this discussion, but as an artist I have to rely on my intuition. What comes out early in my novel is that Anna as an infant, shivers and shakes when a television is turned on. Apparently infants—maybe mothers have experienced this as well—are more affected by the electronic frequency of television, radios, and smart phones than we may have recognized. Her mother unplugs all such devices, and only uses her laptop away from her after hours. When people try to take pictures of little Anna, she balls up her fists and doesn’t like that intrusion either.
What infant Anna likes most of all is strolls in the park in her carriage, or in her mother’s baby sling when she walks on the beach, or even drives her along the ocean highway with the window cracked. Apparently she delights in the negative ions created by crashing waves. And even as an infant, Anna goes into ecstatic trance states, her body shaking and twitching, which at first concerns her mother thinking she may have cerebral palsy. But, knowing of Anna’s advanced state, she researches adepts like Anandamayi Ma and Ramakrishna who spontaneously went into such states in their teens and her mother Maggie is reassured.
I wonder if we misapprehend the excitement infants and small children have exploring the world and project our mental bias on them, when this is not an expression of a developing mind as much as it is that of an inborn spirit. The eyes of infants and small children shine with a light and a delight that many of us adults have lost. I would assume that more “enlightened” parents sense this and allow their young children to “play out” their youths. But I’ve also known of some who sent their children to “genius” school at age three to develop their “potential,” which seemed in one case to disturb a natural development and didn’t end up well.
While the great psychologist of childhood development, Jean Piaget, was more concerned about mental than spiritual development in children, he did hit upon a concept that I believe applies to both. He argued that intelligence develops in stages related to a child’s age, which are progressive, and one stage must be completed before moving to the next. I believe, as reflected in my intuitive rendering of Anna’s unfoldment, that spiritual development progresses in stages as well and that it is imperative not to push the maturation of a child’s intellect. We should allow that inborn spirit the space to flourish and anchor itself first before the ego mind arises at around age four.
As a child Anna resists such development and prefers “direct knowing” to understanding, and she fills her days meditating and drawing pictures of her spirit “companions.” This is reminiscent of the 19th century Hindu saint Ramakrishna, who according to the Ullmans, “Having little interest in school or the material world, young Ramakrishna often drifted off from the outer world into states of ecstasy.” This would have been Anna’s tendency, but her mother and Anna’s spiritual guide, Joseph, impress upon her the need in due course to develop her full being.
“The more she spoke and used language and listened to adult speech patterns, she could sense or feel something developing inside of her, a kind of social or mental self that grew with her use of language. She had asked Joseph, and he said it was normal but not to confuse her real self with it, like everyone here eventually does. She asked why allow it then? He told her that it was the basis for humanity’s communal interchange and one’s ability to communicate with others.” So the preferred development is to integrate the mind/ego into a firmly rooted spirit-imbued child, and not to arrest its unfoldment, or miss this mental stage. It is interesting to note that many spiritual adepts were not schooled until the age of ten or so.
And part of a such a development would be spiritual discernment. Anna has natural healing abilities and could heal everybody she comes in contact with. At the park, her mother notices that Anna is very “hands-on” with her friends, and those with runny noses or colds, soon have them cleared up. She asks her daughter if she is healing them, and Anna confirms that suspicion. This becomes a crisis for mother and daughter; Joseph settles this dispute by telling them that Anna must first ask the soul of the infirmed if they are ready, like the little boy with leukemia, who must first endure some suffering before being healed.
Maggie may seem a bit overprotective, but she is concerned that if the world were to discover the true nature of her daughter’s “beingness” and abilities, it would beat a path to their door and try to exploit Anna. Maggie’s adult fear-based mentality is counterpoised here by Anna’s inborn spirit, which is the dynamic that happens within each of us on our spiritual journey. And like those of us who have eventually learned, often later than sooner, to trust their intuitive inner voice, parents would eventually be able to trust such spiritually evolved children’s discernment.
Another aspect of this development is young children’s ability to see the spirit world around them. Probably more childhood spiritual connections have been severed by parents insisting that seeing angels and dead grandparents is just the child’s overactive imagination than from other odd behavior. By comparison, down through the ages women’s spiritual experiences have been discounted by male doctors as hysteria, to the point that there’s been a recent reassessment by psychologists of such visions. But while we’re now prone to give adults more leeway in this regard, the stigmatism attached to childhood psychoses still makes even conscious parents wary of such visions.
For instance Maggie takes exception to her young daughter’s active hand gestures when communicating in public with the spirits around her. By now in telepathic communication with Anna, she insists that Anna modify this behavior and she indulges her mother. Most assume that because of a lack of mental development, infants and small children are “blank slates,” but the spirit still alive in them is of a different order of intelligence. Looking into the eyes of a quiet infant is like gazing at that famous photo of Ramana Maharshi, whose eyes are wells of peacefulness and affects us as it did Paul Brunton in his presence. “I became aware of a silent, resistless change that is taking place within my mind.”
Yes, Anna comes to this naturally, and her presence has the same effect on people, who are drawn to or turn away from her. But what if we recognize that spiritual essence in our children and strive to enhance it and allow it to flourish and not project our own mental worldview on them. What if they are directed to maintain a single focus—out of sight, out of mind— and when their minds naturally start to develop, we teach them to recognize that their thoughts are not them, that they are the observing self—the viewer of the world.
As I see it, which is not original to me, we have perpetuated the madness of our society generation to generation because we project onto our children our mental orientation to the world. We push them to be achievers not whole beings; we want them to accomplish the dreams we were unable to fulfill. And if they have a spiritual spark, we rather they became Jesuits than Sadhus. But what we need are spiritually rebellious children who stake their own claim, forge their own path, and create a new world. This is Anna’s path.
When seven-year-old Anna, with her mother and the ashram’s lawyer, are confronted by a school board concerned about her “effect” on the good children of their town, Anna quiets her defenders and speaks for herself. She needs no clever arguments or case histories to win them over. She is who she is, I am that I am, and allows the purity of her beingness to quiet the discord in the room and draw from her accusers a “higher” response, which allows them to acknowledge the “rightness” of her claims.
I come back to my title, because unless we can recognize the “miracle of us,” our true heritage as spiritual beings first, how can we ignite that spirit in our children and nurture it in their development. It’s what we deny in ourselves that we deny in our children and others, and we must reclaim that. This might begin by us going back and undoing all the false paths and concepts imposed on us as children until they became “acceptable.” Forgive our trespassers and then forge a new path for us, our children, and our world.
About the author
John Nelson is the sci-fi/visionary author of Starborn, Transformations, Matrix of the Gods, I, Human, New Mexican Standoff, and The Miracle of Anna. He is also the author of The Magic Mirror, the 2008 COVR winner at INATS for best book of the year and best divination system, and the recently released The Guide to Energetic Healing. He is the former editorial director of Bear & Company and Inner Oceans Publishing, and today writes books and edits fiction and nonfiction at Bookworks Ltd.
Visit his website: www.johnnelsonbookworks.com