I remember when I was very much younger, at the tender age of 6, entering primary school for the first time, to attend my first class.
The class was named 1Y and it was at the ground level of Yuk Chai Primary school. My Indonesian maid was stationed outside the class for the whole afternoon so that I could see her. Her presence gave me assurance that I am not left alone with a group of strangers. When she disappears for a break, I would burst into tears out of fear.
I was terrified of my new environment because in my mind I had no clue what the environment would look like. It is like asking the adult me to move into an alien planet with aliens. I am not able to picture what is it like there, therefore I feel frightened because of all the unknown risks lurking there; risks that I cannot control unless I have a picture of how it works.
That was approximately what was going on in my immature, fragile, 6 years old mind.
Now, at 29 years old. I am soon in a position to move to a new city, to a new apartment, to start a new career and a new life. The thought of it does not frighten me, because my mind is matured enough to picture it, to imagine the big picture.
Compared to my 6 years old self, I have a better understanding of social conventions; symbols or words that allowed me to understand any human environment effortlessly.
With this mental picture, I am able to anticipate the risks and rewards in navigating through that alternative reality, as if I am experiencing it presently. With such anticipation, I am able to better prepare myself. My mind is convinced.
There is presently no guidance on how to teach young children how to be aware of their illusion self. To tackle this illusion of self among adults, one could employ reason. But for young children, the faculty in the brain that is responsible for reasoning is not yet ripe, similarly with many other parts of the brain. The brain is underdeveloped, therefore we cannot expect the same reasoning argument that applies to adult to also apply to them.
Once children develop the sense of independent self, it would become very difficult for that mark in their minds to be reversed or erased. Unless of course, they are bought up in an environment where the self is not recognised, therefore the underdeveloped brain has no chance of absorbing that concept. But this kind of environment is exceedingly rare in modern days. Therefore, most children will experience the world in the minds of their ignorant parents and people in society. I am no exception.
Returning to the 6 years old me, what is that one thing that could avoid that terrifying feeling of entering the unknown? What is that one thing that could convince the mind that everything is fine?
If the 6-year-old me recognised the way of life or the concept of Wu wei, then there is no need to force things to protect the self. I would embrace the unknowns just as a bird flies gracefully into the space of unknowns. Forcing will result in the same outcome as not forcing. However, with force, you will experience the afflictive emotions of fear.
Be like the flowing water from the mountains, or be the drunken man who falls from a moving cart uninjured.
This analogy suggests that when we drop our self-centred ideas, expectations, goals, aspirations, regrets, worries, woes, and any resistance and mental chatter that’s built around the constant need to try and control everything, then things often work out for the better.
If the 6-year-old me lack the mental faculties to grasp this awareness and realise it, then what can?
My parents or the adults around me cannot be blamed for this lack of foresight, as they too have been absorbed into the social convention that defines the civilisation that I live in. A civilisation with the social convention that gave birth to all of the life conveniences I would later experience in my growing years.
You take, you give. What you take is life’s convenience, what you give is your awareness.
EDIT. Mom’s reply.