This morning when I was meditating, the thought came to me, “What about when the toddler cries?” There is no question that my toddler, as all toddlers, cried and I would imagine occasionally even threw a temper tantrum, although I never heard anyone describe me in that way. My father wrote that I was “always smiling;” that “I was his sunshine.” And my mother made no mention of such episodes in my baby book. So who knows?
But all toddlers cry. I can’t imagine I didn’t. At some point, my toddler experienced pain or loss of one type or another, whether it’s physical or emotional. And he cried.
However, and here’s the point, a toddler gets past that and resumes his state of being joyful and open to all that the present moment offers. That’s what toddlers do. And how does that work? It’s because they have no memory; their minds aren’t developed that way yet. And they don’t think of the future for the same reason. Nor do they apply labels to experience. That begins around age 3, when their ego-mind begins to form.
And so they are truly present. It’s like I observed and described in my post, “The Wisdom of Chickens.” (See post.) Chickens will get very upset when something bad happens. But within a few hours or certainly the next day they are back to going about their business, fully present, good natured, a joy to behold.
I stated in that post that they and other animals in the wild are perfect examples of the Buddha dharma. And the reason is that while they do have brains, and they do experience sensations, they are not capable of thought. That is man’s curse. Of course it’s also a blessing, but in practice more often a curse.
Similarly, a toddler is free of thought. He has no ego-mind. That is what enables him to experience things directly. And get past whatever pain he experiences quickly, returning to his joyful self. That is what makes him the avatar of my true Buddha nature.