Do you know the Taung Child?
This child lived approximately three million years ago. Its skull – all we have to remember it – indicates that at about four years of age its eyes were plucked out by a great eagle.
Imagine its terror – being held down by a bird twice its size. Imagine its pain. Imagine its suffering and death.
Now imagine its mother. Did she see it happen? Did she try to stop it? Did she try to comfort the child as it died? Was there any comfort for her?
The love of the parent for its child is one of our oldest inheritances. Humberto Maturana suggests that the extended childhood characteristic of our human family works because parents love their children, need help raising them, and thus learned how to communicate in order to cooperate and coordinate in creating a care-based culture. All our being rests on the love that neoteny brings forth in us.
We are descendents of mothers and fathers in more ways than one.
This naturally informed Jesus’ easy reference to God as his “abba,” a nomenclature which emphasizes the absolute trust of the child in the absolute kindness of its parent, as perfect a love as Jesus could imagine because, really, it is as perfect a love as any of us can imagine.
In this review, A Course in Miracles draws on this ancient tradition, and asks us to hold it in mind as we study and practice.
Lead our practicing as does a father lead a little child along a way he does not understand. Yet does he follow, sure that he is safe because his father leads the way for him. So we bring our practicing to You (W-pI.rV.In.2:5-6,3:1).
This is necessary, we are told, because we are “preparing for another phase of understanding” (W-pI.rV.In.1:3), which will require “more effort and more time” (W-pI.rV.In.1:2). We are preparing to remember, in a real and sustained way, that “God is but Love, and therefore so am I” (W-pI.rV.In.4:3).
This Self alone knows Love. This Self alone is perfectly consistent in Its Thoughts; knows Its Creator, understands Itself, is perfect in Its knowledge and Its Love, and never changes from Its constant state of union with Its Father and Itself (W-pI.rV.In.4:4-5).
So we are being invited to intensify our practice, but in the direction of devotion and surrender – that is, in the direction of a child who knows that her mother loves and will not abandon her. She need do nothing. We are talking about trust, not intellectual accomplishment. We are talking about becoming followers, not leaders. We are remembering the ancient promise of love itself.
“Unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (MT 18:3) needs “only one slight correction to be meaningful in this context” (T-2.VII.6:14): “Unless you change and become like little children, you will never remember the kingdom of heaven.” For we are already in it but have forgotten.
And what then of the Taung Child? How does that distant member of our vast family factor in to our learning?
He lives in me as my fear of pain and death, no? He lives in me as my fear of being parentless and my fear of losing a child. He lives in me as my respect for the birds of the sky, whose need to eat is no less worthy than mine. And he lives in me as the knowledge that no brother or sister can be separate from me. He speaks to me as Christ, no less than Jesus and no less than you.
Listen to him:
I am incomplete without your part in me. And as I am made whole we go together to our ancient home, prepared for us before time was and kept unchanged by time, immaculate and safe, as it will be at last when time is done (W-pI.rV.In.8:7-8).
Together, then, yes? Together for all of us.