Many years ago, when I started my biology degree the head of the university department, an elderly professor with a wonderful white beard gave a talk to all the new students. He said to be scientists we need to be like children, to approach our subject from the perspective of one who knows nothing yet with an eagerness to notice and learn everything. We needed to keep our wonder and excitement about the world around us. It was through that route, we could be open to seeing and discovering new things about the natural world.
It was great advice not just for would be scientists but for life. To come from a place of Innocence is central to the tantric way of life. To always be curious about the possibilities in each moment rather than letting our mind determine our experience based on the past, our deeply held beliefs and our judgements. Yet in Tantra we aren’t just interested in the ideas we hold but the way we feel and how our life’s energy can flow freely and uninhibited.
In healthy environments infants and children express themselves freely (often to either the horror or delight of the adults around them!). They have no filter and no reason to hold back their expression. In this way they move easily from one thing to another. If they are upset they cry and this can easily become laughter as they reach another moment, another experience. Their energy, their life force is free flowing, they are able to be creative and enjoy their existence.
For some infants their free flowing energy is inhibited either as a result of neglect or over cautious parents. As we grow these inhibitions tend to limit all of us. The external voice of society teaches us that only certain feelings and expressions are appropriate for specific situations. Whilst this may help make an ordered society when we forget we ever had any other feelings we also loose who we truly are.
As we get lost our need to find identity leads us to become attached to set ways of being, to ideas of right and wrong. But in this we also lose connection to our own unique life energy.
I am writing this blog in the few days before we run a workshop called Innocence. This is level 3 of our mixed programme. When people see this on the programme they often assume it will be about healing childhood traumas and at times this workshop does bring up memories of incidents and relationships that we feel have held us back in life. Whilst it can be important and significant to recognise and honour the events of our past, this workshop gives us an opportunity to move forward, to regain what most of us as adults have lost.
We will be inviting participants to suspend their ideas of who they are, stepping into each moment with an innocent curiosity. We will be inviting childlike (not childish) playfulness so we can ‘forget ourselves’ and surrender to the pure joy of existence. To rediscover our natural states and be given the freedom of expression, moment by moment. It is from this place we can remember who we truly are.
Twice whilst writing this blog I have been reminded of an old Zen story about the Lion who was raised by sheep. A reminder of how we can forget who we are. You can watch it here