How Your Autistic Child Can be Your Spiritual Guru
Kuei-shan asked Yun-yen, “What is the seat of enlightenment?”
Yun-yen said, “Freedom from artificiality.”
How beautiful. Just thinking about freedom from artificiality took a load off my back.
How lovely would it be to be just as one is, without any need to be someone that one is ‘expected’ to be.
My mind drifted to my son and students.
They epitomize this feeling of freedom from artificiality for me. How do they manifest this in their lives?
1. They are totally themselves.
Many parents feel like this about their autistic children. They are who they are and they are unapologetic about it.
From the worldly view point, people with autism seem to not have a strong sense of self. Ironically, from the spiritual view point, they have a tough, diamond like sense of self.
Reminder: Be yourself, everyone else is taken. And oh yes! Be proud to be who you are.
2. They say what they mean
Yesterday, I met a 27 year old young man. He has been newly diagnosed on the Autism Spectrum. I asked him what he considered his major problem to be.
He thought for a while and then said, “I don’t have as many filters in my mind as others do. I say what I need to. I see others thinking so much about what to say, because they want to be right. And it’s painful to watch.”
I see this with my students all the time. They say exactly what they want to. They are untouched, unconditioned by ‘what is ‘supposed to be.’
It totally fits in with what Don Miguel Ruiz states in ‘The Four Agreements.’
3. They have the hallmark of simplicity
I love to shop for exclusive stuff for Mohit. Gucci shoes, a Louis Vuitton belt, an Armani shirt etc.
Given a choice, he still pulls out his most comfortable sneakers and that worn out blue t shirt.
It makes me reflect. What is happiness? It’s about enjoying the simple things in life. Watching a beautiful sunset, reading a good book, enjoying a simple home cooked meal with friends.
Reminder: Go back to simplicity. What do you really need in life?
4. They’re happy with little things
My friend Jigna talks fondly about her daughter Aashni. Rajiv (her husband) is a diamond merchant.
Jigna jokingly remarks that Rajiv can cover Aashni with the most beautiful diamond jewelry. But Aashni values a strawberry soufflé more than expensive diamonds.
Reminder: Objects or people cannot give you happiness. Happiness comes from the little joys of life. And most importantly, it comes from within.
5. They love and accept others just as they are
I may snap at Mohit about something. But it’s mostly about my agitated inner state and not about him.
When I do, I get the typical Mohit x-ray ‘look’ from him.
The beauty is that he never holds it against me. What a feeling to feel accepted for who you are. Mohit knows all my secrets as I share everything with him. I know he will not judge me. He gives me the freedom to be just as I am.
“A few years ago, Sanjeev underwent an operation. He was on red alert because of his seizures. The entire hospital was on red alert too. The anesthetic effects could have triggered a seizures. I had asked to be with him in the operation theatre. The tense anesthetist and the surgeon were on their toes about getting him under anesthesia. Sanjeev just held my hand, gave me this heart melting look, closed his eyes and was soon deep in anesthesia. He knew as long as I was with him, he would be okay.”
“The consequences of what would happen did not matter to him. The image of him in the operation theatre, looking weak yet strong, vulnerable yet with steely resolve, has become etched in my memory. That one incident is enough to motivate me to fight fiercely for this child, to be his voice, his advocate, his guardian, his well wisher, his teacher, his friend and his world. Proud to be his mother.”
Reminder: Rise to develop this trust in God and the Universe. We’re always taken care of.
Autistic people don’t hide their emotions. When they’re angry, they’re really angry. When they’re sad, they don’t feel ashamed of crying. When they’re happy, they jump with joy.
Reminder: Say what you mean and mean what you say. Above all, be who you are.
I believe the world is a better place, just because all these wonderful souls inhabit it.
While we, their parents and caregivers teach them to navigate this world, they teach us the highest spiritual truths. They don’t make an effort to do this. It’s inherent in them.
You can’t catch a sunbeam. And yet, it lights up your entire room. Autistic people brighten our lives by just being themselves. Don’t try to hold them down or contain them – for they are vast and majestic.
Do you see these qualities in your child too? I would love to hear from you.