Sometimes we lose our way and need to make a fresh start. The idea of being like a newborn is a theme running through many spiritual practices and that is about as fresh as it gets. Since we were all children once, you’d think this would be an easy thing to do, but that’s not always the case. To make matters worse, most of us can’t remember much before the age of four or five. It’s as if someone erased the files.
For this reason, we have to rely on our own observations to get clues about this practice. A newborn is wide eyed and curious about its surroundings. “Childlike wonder” is a descriptive phrase we often use to describe a newborn. Lao Tsu uses the phrase “attends fully” to convey the same idea. You get the sense that newborn children are fully alive and centered in the present moment. They do not sulk about the pains of birth, nor do they worry about their next meal.
Maybe we can’t remember our lives before the age of four or five because we lived fully and completely in the present and never gave a thought to such things as “the past or the future”. If this is this so, then our lives changed dramatically when we began to think about the past and the future.
So, what of this business of making a fresh start? Mastery is the ability to self-correct. Maybe the old masters are suggesting that in those instances when we lose our way, we can look to the example of a newborn as one possible way to make a fresh start. Spend a little time attending fully and see what happens. All you have to lose are the old wounds that distract you from living the life you were meant to live.
Carrying body and soul and embracing the one,
Can you avoid separation?
Attending fully and becoming supple,
Can you be as a newborn babe?
Washing and cleansing the primal vision,
Can you be without stain?
Lao Tsu: Tao Te Ching translation by Gia-Fu Feng and Jane English.