I am 32 going on 52 going on 12.
My inner child and inner guru certainly get their fair share of game time. How much they get is simply determined by their coach: me.
We all have many identities: we are a father/mother, a son/daughter, a best friend, a colleague, a coach and an array of other roles that we fulfill in other’s lives. Yet our most fundamental identity—our individual awareness—has an extremely vital task: to ensure that our inner child is nurtured and our inner guru is freed.
We’re born on a near clean slate. Apart from our genetic dispositions, our environment shapes who we are to become. In fact our environment is so influential that it can even switch on and off our genes (see the scientific field of Epigenetics).
Our clean slate of consciousness then develops into our inner child. One of the most beautiful and poetic features of life is that our inner child naturally embodies some of the virtues. These can include:
- Wonder and awe;
- Beauty and playfulness;
- Innocence and openness;
- Appreciation and devotion;
- Trust and honesty;
- Forgiveness and unity;
- Love and joy;
- Creativity and curiosity;
- Determination and strength; and
- Gentleness and enthusiasm.
Once a child learns to separate itself from the rest of reality, it becomes further conditioned based on its environmental stimuli.
Parents or carers are the normally greatest influence of a child’s development. This conditioning can have layers of both negative and positive traits and most likely a child will be brought up in functional and dysfunctional ways impacting both themselves and society. Generally, dysfunctional traits are created by overwhelming virtues with anti-virtues.
It is important to note that there are three aspects to virtuous living, which I call the v-three: virtuous thinking, feeling and action.
It is hypocritical to act virtuously but not think and feel virtuously—in fact, it’s a farce. The only person who knows our thoughts is ourselves, so if we’re not thinking virtuously, we’re not truly virtuous are we? This is further discussed in my article, “Have We Achieved Real Success.”
The anti-virtues are essentially any thoughts, feelings and actions which contradict the v-three, such as:
- Jealousy and hate;
- Disrespect and cruelty;
- Abuse and neglect;
- Insecurity and fear;
- Lying and cheating;
- Sadness and deception;
- Anger and hostility; and
- Negative judgement and resentment.
This is obviously not a complete list. Nor do any of us ever completely overcome thinking, feeling or behaving in anti-virtuous ways—no matter how developed we become. We’re all human, and therefore we’re all capable of making mistakes or acting out of character.
All we can do is aim to progress ourselves in each and every moment.
In that light, let us emphasise that there is no better or worse person. There are certainly more developed or less developed people. Or, as some like to call it, more enlightened or less enlightened people. However, just because a person is more developed or enlightened does not make them better than anyone else. Yes, a person may be at a more developed stage than us, but we’ve all changed and grown throughout our entire lives so we have as much opportunity to develop as they did, exactly as others have the opportunity to develop as much as we have. We’re all essentially equal—see my related article which discusses equal-living, “The Orchestra of Reality, Parts one and two.”
The anti-virtues, however, are also a natural occurrence in human experience. Eventually they creep in one way or another, although this is in some respects a good thing because we must experience the lows to appreciate the highs. Through the years of conditioning we may learn to operate anti-virtuously.
It is the responsibility of all of us to reawaken the virtues once we have established a true sense of freedom in our teenage years.
The time we become truly free is the time that we take full responsibility of ourselves and ensure we’re the single most influential factor in how we evolve for the rest of our lives.
It is also at this time when we can properly free our inner guru. Although the inner guru embodies the previously listed virtues, it also embraces qualities which require a more advanced mind. They can be learned from a young age, even if they are merely something taught and not something truly understood. For example:
- Accountability and reverence;
- Bravery and discipline;
- Humility and honour;
- Faith and understanding;
- Charity and compassion;
- Decisiveness and detachment;
- Dignity and service;
- Assertiveness and respect;
- Cleanliness and sacrifice;
- Excellence and wisdom;
- Commitment and responsibility;
- Generosity and integrity;
- Justice and loyalty; and
- Mercy and patience.
There is a major difference between the inner child and the inner guru, although both embrace the v-three and experience varying degrees of the virtues. For example, the inner child and inner guru are both wise, yet in what way can vary in definition.
Ultimately, the difference is that the inner child is a vulnerable and playful learner whilst the inner guru is a protected and deliberate master—student versus teacher.
As a conscious adult we are all these things to some degree. For example, we all have a sense of responsibility and respect and depending on the person it varies in development. We also have strengths and weaknesses; one person may be more developed in compassion whilst another may be more developed in their capacity to love. It is important for us to recognise at what stage we have developed each area so that we can focus on continuously learning and enlightening ourselves.
To grow there are three steps that we must take. I call this the Triple A Guide:
The first step is Awareness, the second is Acceptance and the third is Application.
Our inner child and inner guru need to be balanced—that is our job; the job of our conscious ghost in the machine and our freedom of choice. We can switch between our inner child and inner guru from conversation to conversation or even from statement to statement. To one person we may apply our child and to another we may apply our guru. We allow ourselves to be vulnerable at times and protected at others. We mix it up—we cherish and nourish both of them equally.
Here are some questions we may want to ask ourselves to determine if we’re achieving this balance:
- Are we appropriately being both a student and teacher from moment to moment?
- Do we properly apply our master to ensure we maintain our discipline?
- Are we allowing plenty of play-time so life is taken less seriously and we have more fun?
- Do we allow ourselves to be vulnerable in appropriate situations?
- In what ways have we developed our v-three through the Triple A Guide?
It is through this continued self-reflection that we will determine how well our inner child is nurtured and how free our inner guru is. Enjoy the process! Play with it at times and master it at others. Just always remember that we’re both students and teachers for the rest of our lives.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editorial Assistant: Alicia Wozniak/Editor: Bryonie Wise