Guest Writer for Wake Up World
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 fulfil in others’ 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.
Nurture Your Inner Child
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, as measured by 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 of childhood. 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.
Virtues and 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 ourself, so if we’re not thinking virtuously, we’re not truly virtuous are we?
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; therefore we’re all liable to experiencing the roller-coaster of human emotions and making mistakes or acting out of character.
If we aim to progress ourselves in each and every moment then we are doing everything that we can for ourselves and others.
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. Ultimately, we’re all essentially equal.
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 however we may learn to predominately operate anti-virtuously, which is unhealthy for ourselves and the rest of the community.
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.
Free Your Inner Guru
The time we become truly free is the time that we take full responsibility of ourselves and ensure we, not anyone or anything else, are 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 – the old student versus teacher dichotomy.
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.
Balancing the Inner Child and the Inner Guru
To grow there are three steps that we must take. I call this the Triple A Guide:
- The first step is Awareness (a conscious recognition of an issue requiring change);
- The second is Acceptance (not just the acceptance that it needs to change, but also why and how); and
- The third is Application (the implementation of a strategy to achieve the change).
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.
Updated September 2014
Previous articles by Phillip J. Watt:
- The Ego is the Source of Suffering AND Contentment
- The Orchestra of Reality – a Journey through Science, Spirituality & Symbolism
- 8 Emotional Patterns That Can Disturb Our Inner Peace
- 8 More Emotional Patterns That Can Disturb Our Inner Peace
- Finding Our Peace: The Art of Loving Our Experience
- A Day in the Life of Mindfulness
- The New Age of a United Global Culture
- A Guide to Unity: Transcending the Illusion of Disconnection
- Permaculture – What Is It and Why Is It Important?
- Matter vs. Spirit – A Guide to Participating in the Greatest Debate Ever
About the author:
Phillip J. Watt is an ‘experience veteran’. His mantra is “Have a crack at life”. Living in Sydney, Australia, he is best described as a ‘self-help guide’. In life, he focuses on his own physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health and aims to share that focus with his clients and his readers. His written articles generally reflect that focus also, and deal with topics from ideology to society, and self-help.
Phillip has a degree in Social Science and Philosophy and has been trained extensively in health services. Working in the therapeutic sector, he assists families and children as a mentor, relationship mediator and health and life teacher. He also provides tailored programs for personal growth which are facilitated face-to-face, via email and over the phone, assisting clients to grow their skills and knowledge in life management.
“The greatest gift is presence.”