Children and ‘Enlightenment’ and Enlightenment

indi.ca
8 min readFeb 16, 2024

My daughter was yelling at the maids, which is the one thing she cannot do. My wife said she must get that from her, but my wife never yells at the maids. I was confused. Then I thought about it, and it’s true. My wife must be yelling at the maids inside her head, and my daughter just can’t control the voice in her head. In many ways, we as parents are that voice. Her emotions are still externalized, like her brother’s digestive system.

External Organs

They say that having a child is like wearing your heart outside your body for the rest of your life, but for the child’s first years all of their organs are outside. The anus, the stomach, the brain; all somebody else’s problem. I still wash my kids’ butts and feed them by hand, and they’re six and seven now. Indeed, my Amma fed me by hand (occasionally) until I was a teenager. Then I hand-fed her cake at my wedding. The loop is never supposed to close, it’s just supposed to reverse flow. This is the circle. The circle of life. But it’s broken.

As you grow up you’re supposed to keep all your organs inside your body, all your money inside your bank account, all your thoughts inside your skull. You are, in short, expected to be an individual, which is not a natural state of being at all. One of the greatest disproofs of individuality is that we’re literally attached to our mothers at birth. Humans come out half-baked, babies are definitely not done. The entire digestive loop takes years to become self-regulating, and emotions take even longer. Indeed, these loops never become independent, you just learn to mediate them through people other than your parents. It takes a lot of work to understand the concept of not-self (anatta) as an adult, but to babies it’s self-evident (or not-self-evident). Babies are just born connected and we only unlearn this as adults.

As my kids get older I can see them developing the illusion of self. And I can see the segmentation of life between home and school, where they cannot let their organs all hang out. When I get their school reports I’m like, “Who is this kid?” Polite? Doesn’t complain? Never yells? Did I get the wrong report? What’s happening is that they’re now capable of self-regulation. At home they just don’t have to. So they don’t. As I say, you show your ass to your…

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indi.ca

Indrajit (Indi) Samarajiva is a Sri Lankan writer. Follow me at www.indi.ca, or just email me at indi@indi.ca.