Never underestimate the wisdom of children. Their untainted explanations of the world can bring lessons on what life was before we were told what it was supposed to be.
Recently my seven year-old daughter randomly said, “I can’t believe my eyes are so small, but I see so big.” This struck me as so simple yet profound. As a child, much of what we see is new. We are learning, and being told what things are. Then as we get older we feel less newness as we learn to apply what we already know to everything by means of like comparison and based on our experiences and established belief systems. I suggest the result of this is that we are seeing “smaller.” We have so many lenses clouding our vision that we only see what we want to believe.
In the Noble Eightfold Path of Buddhism, the first is “Right View.” It simply means to see reality as it is. The truth is that nothing is permanent. Despite our knowledge of this, we fear the uncertainty of life, so we choose to view things through a lens of convicted beliefs based on our experiences in order to avoid pain. We explain things to our children based on this gathered knowledge to protect them from pain. Is this really doing them a service?
Another angle on this is Gary Zukav’s explanation in Seat of the Soul of humans as “five sensory beings,“ only able to experience the realm of our physical senses. That this perception of the need to control our environments is based in fear. It enhances the perceived separation between us and has led to violence and control tactics in all its forms.
If we can pursue the Right View, or becoming multisensory beings, we will be aware of suffering and in turn genuinely want to treat it with compassion and also of the power to not judge everything we encounter and instead observe it mindfully to appreciate beauty to the smallest detail.
So in the end, I hope my children continue to see “big” for as long as possible and I can approach the idea of seeing things with new, young eyes as well, not tainted by my fears or beliefs or desires that have built lens upon lens making me project my own version of truth. Our eyes are small, what we see with them is up to us.