A curious thing happened to me once when I was a little girl – perhaps eleven or twelve years old. During recess time at school I was in the bathroom and I looked into the mirror to see if I looked tidy. Then suddenly I found that I was standing halfway between my body and the mirror, watching myself looking at my reflection in the mirror.
It amused me to see the three I’s, and I thought it must have been a trick one could learn. So I tried to show my girlfriend and I tried it again myself – without success. It didn’t, in retrospect, feel like witnessing; it felt like my essential self had stepped out of my physical form. Is it of any value to understand what happened to that little girl?
It happens to many children, but because the atmosphere around is not supportive of awareness, those experiences are not nourished by the parents, the school, the friends, the teachers. And if you say that it has happened to you, people will laugh – and you yourself will think that something has gone wrong, that it was not right.
For example, all children in every culture around the world like to whirl. And every parent stops them from whirling and says, “You will fall down.” It is true, there is a possibility they may fall down. But that falling down is not going to harm much.
But why do children like whirling? While the body is whirling, small children can see it whirling. They are no longer identified with it, because it is such a new experience.
With everything they are identified – with walking they are identified, with eating they are identified, with anything they are doing, usually they are identified. This whirling is such an experience that the faster the body moves, whirls, the less is the possibility of their remaining identified.
Soon they are lagging behind; the body is whirling but their being cannot whirl. It stops at a point and starts seeing its own body whirling. Sometimes it can come out of the body too. If the whirling child is not staying at one place but goes on moving – whirling and moving around the place – then his essential self can come out and watch it.
Such activities should be helped, nourished, and the child should be asked, “What are you experiencing?” and told, “This experience is one of the greatest in life, so don’t forget it. Even if you fall, there is no harm; there is not much that can be harmful. But what you can gain is invaluable.” But they are being stopped in this and in many other things.
My own experience in childhood was…the flooded river of my town – nobody used to cross it by swimming when it was flooded. It was a mountainous river. Ordinarily, it was a small river, but in rainy times it was at least one mile wide. The current of the water was tremendous; you could not stand in it. And the water was deep, so there was no way to stand anyway.