Spiritual Growth from Child to Adult

Written by Christopher Oliphant.

A child is awakened into this world surrounded by love and is greatly fulfilled. As we become adults we realize that there is no permanence in life the universe is impersonal. Christopher Oliphant explains the spiritual growth that a child goes through to become an adult.

Child and No Self

Experiencing the bliss of an awakening brings about a profound change in our understanding of the world. To the child, it feels like a dream come true. Here is the love, wholeness and security that he or she has longed for. Suddenly love is everywhere, all is one and the universe is unfolding as it should. Here is the eternally happiness; the fulfilled reward here and now.

baby with teddy bear

The awakening opens a whole new world. The trials of this world are now known to be empty. Religion and looking for God is dropped, knowing there is no separation between self and God. The awakening opens wisdom, insight and spiritual gifts.

However, the unitive state doesn't last. The child eagerly awaits the next one. If it does not come soon enough, the child begins to look for ways to speed it up. Some take courses that promise control over the elusive state. Some try meditation, since that is spiritual. Some turn to drugs to induce the state artificially. Some accomplish what they seek and become bliss junkies. Some become teachers selling the bliss state as the ultimate spiritual experience. All have missed the point.

As is the nature of the child, he or she has looked to the awakening as something to get; like spiritual candy and, as is the nature of the child, she or he will keep taking the candy. But just as candy is empty calories, the unitive experience is empty spirituality. Only the child is too busy enjoying the sweetness to see that there is no spiritual nutrition.

Child and Inside Self

The child has changed the focus from the outer, Big Daddy God, to the inner. However, the need for control remains. The child looks for ways of securing the future through right acting, thinking and feeling. This could include trying to think and feel only positive thoughts and feelings. It could be manifesting reality through visualizing, meditation and mantras. Regardless of the technique, the child believes that he or she can control the future and achieve their wants through internal control of the self.

The growth in this approach is seeing the world as more malleable and interconnected. It is acknowledging that thoughts and feelings do affect reality as we experience it. The problem is when the child tries to take it further. In the child's need for control and desire for its wants, he or she uses these spiritual principles to bring a sense of power over the events of the universe. There is often a belief in magic of some form. If I do certain things, believe certain beliefs, think certain thoughts, feeling certain feelings, and so on, I will guarantee a certain outcome. That the desired outcome only comes sometimes, or in some areas of life, does not deter the child from holding to this belief.

Adult and No Self

Now we bring our adult to the no-self experience. The child saw no-self experiences as generators of good feelings and desired more. The adult sees the experience as a teacher. This is the theme of the adult; that events whether coming from outside of the self, inside the self or the no-self, all are teachers. Thus the adult seeks grow and attain wisdom from all of life.

Specifically from the no-self, the adult learns that the ego and this life we lead are illusion. The adult watches as the self disappears and reappears and comes to know that ego is impermanent. When a no-self experience goes particularly deep, the adult comes to know that there is no permanence anywhere.

Along side of this, the adult knows the need to continue to move in the world, even while knowing it is not real. This keeps the adult grounded in activities of everyday life like going to work, paying bills and spending time with family.

Adult and Inside Self

From this place I acknowledge the law of attraction; that thoughts and feelings affect what happens and how I respond to events. However, I have given up my belief in magic. I now see life as far more complicated. I am not the only one putting out thoughts and feelings. There are over 6 billion in physical form and countless more in non-physical. I see that my influence over the course of events is extremely tiny.

The child believes in the magic of creating my reality. The adult sees a co-creation amongst the infinite number of beings. Stepping back from the need to be the sole creator of the events in my life, I can see the childishness of that belief. However, I also see my responsibility for my response to life events. I may have a limited to control life's external events, but I am 100% responsible for my internal events and my response to external events. I see now that this is my creation; my inner world and my ability to respond to the events in my life. This brings God within, no longer outside of my life.

Adult and Outside Self

We are back looking outside of our self, this time from the adult. Now, instead of looking for security and wants, the adult sees what is happening without making it personal. The adult can see the beauty of nature and the cosmos knowing it is not there for my personal benefit. The beauty of a flower was not created for me, it just is. In fact, the colour attracts the bee and that serves evolution and the flower. My seeing it as beauty is my projection on to the flower doing its thing.

This means I also don't take unpleasant experiences personally. Whether it is disease, a flood, an earthquake; all is seen as events unfolding.

Seeing the universe as impersonal means I no longer play the reward and punishment game. Pleasant events are not rewards any more than unpleasant events are punishments.

I can use all events as learning experiences, but that is my choice. They were not 'sent' as lessons. This means I cannot find security in the universe. It may be unfolding as it should, but knowing it's impersonal means the unfolding is not for me, it just is.

Observer and Outside Self

We have explored spiritual growth from the Child (what can I get?) and the Adult (what can I learn?). Now it is time to turn our attention to the Observer. The Observer is about disengaging. As we move through the three aspects, along the plane of spiritual growth, we will see the Observer watching life, watching self and disappearing altogether.

When life events happen, the Child tries to make sense of them; tries to fit them into their beliefs of God or the universe. The Adult uses life events to learn. The Observer watches them go by. The Child sees events as being personal - meant to be. The Adult sees them as impersonal, maybe even random events, and uses them as opportunities for growth. The Observer lives in the paradox of knowing life events are directed and random; personal and impersonal. The Observer sees the paradox, but makes no effort to resolve the paradox. He/she knows that trying to resolve the paradox will result in a return to the child or adult approach to life. While the Child works to make sense of the world with theories and speculations about life and death. The Adult attempts to ground the theories in the stuff of life. The Observer is in the present; seeing what is without speculating on what may come. The Observer knows or doesn't know. Belief has no place.

The 'work' of the Observer is to notice what energies invoke the Child or Adult and to disengage from them. It is not fixing, transforming, transcending or healing. It is the act of disengaging. It is noticing attachments and letting them go while knowing the Child and Adult are always present, always engaged, always attached. The Observer does not judge this, rather she or he just observes their gyrations with, at most, a bit of humour.

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