Liberating the lost child

I write and I speak a lot about coming from the heart. We can speak from the heart, listen from the heart and live from the heart. This is very important because the alternative is to be guided by fear. These insights came to me after an awakening experience I had in 2004. What happened was that due to all the grief and pressure that I had to face at that moment in my life the cable that was holding up my self image snapped. What came down were all my beliefs and convictions. The ‘truths’ they were holding just vaporized, crumbled. Everything I was deeply convinced of to be true just wasn’t true at all. And I mean everything! I didn’t know that my identity was a façade, until that  point I really believed that I was me. Makes sense doesn’t it? Well, it wasn’t. Turns out we are hiding a tremendous part of ourselves to ourselves, the part we don’t want to see and/or dare to face. We are aware of our outer identity – of who we think we are – but we are unaware of our inner self. When the inner self was revealed to me and the two merged I experienced wholeness, completeness. My missing part had come back, it had been there all along, right under my nose.

You can imagine the intense joy I felt when I reconnected with myself. But it was sad too. Imagine you lost your child years ago. He just disappeared one day. You grieved for him for years. After a long time you just continue your life, but wounded. Then one day you find him back in – I kid you not – your own basement. He was there all this time! Accidently locked away by you! Suffering. Totally alone. Not taken care of. Without your knowledge you have commited a huge crime against the one who is most near to you. It’s incredibly hard to deal with.

You shut that door to the basement out of fear. The fear of rejection, failure, punishment, being inadequate, exclusion and so forth. Opening the door to the lost part of you is opening the door to forgiveness, self-love, appreciation and acceptance.

So all these beautiful things come from this deep place. Having an unlocked basement turns out to be the same as having an unlocked heart. The door is open now, it is freely accesible.

What happens when you find back your long lost child? You decide you will never let it happen again. At least, that’s what I decided. From now on my son goes with me everywhere. I will never let him out of my sight, hold his hand tight. My son and me, we will start giving talks and workshops on how you can find back your lost one’s too. Because I feel that every mourning parent has the right to happiness, relief and completion.

Now what is the problem here? What I discovered today is that something involentary has snucked in, something not-so-free. Tagging my boy along to show him to the world as evidence that liberation is possible might not be the most compassionate thing to do. First I locked him away, now I drag him along. In a way my son is not free. Fear has entered the equation again. First I was afraid to find him and afraid to look in difficult place, now I am afraid to lose him. This is my problem, not his. I feel guilty and ashamed when I don’t bring him along.

The boy is my heart. When I push my heart to be open because I feel it should be open only because it can be open I am trying to control the way I manifest. Why do I do that? Because I’m afraid to manifest wrongly. Which parachutes me back to square one, the square I thought to have moved beyond.

The difference is subtle but huge: to move from effortful openness to effortless openness. Allowing myself to speak from the heart or making myself speak from the heart.

The insight came to me during the counsel circle practice we do on the sesshin I’m currently attending in the French Jura. My Dharma brother Joao mentioned the possibility to have an open heart without a purpose. It was as if something cracked open inside me. Openheartedness doesn’t need to serve a purpose. I feel freed.

On the image that comes with this post you see a boy trying to warm himself. The driver of the car is unaware of his existence. The boy tries to take care of himself but a hard shell prevents him from truly connecting. Maybe the car is warming him, maybe he is warming the car. Let’s not forget that boy lives inside us.


  1. Justyna says

    I also keep coming back to square one over and over again. But I feel great happiness that I am able to see it. Only a year ago I didn’t see my child at all!! Also, when I come to square one and I notice it, this is the possibility of change, this is the moment when love and compassion can pour in again. And it does!! Square one is a great opportunity to open the heart 🙂 And I hope it is going to be happening more often… so that I can free my little girl completely 🙂 Thanks Atalwin! That was beautiful 🙂

  2. says

    One thing I had to think of a lot the last couple of days, is that higher goals often do so much more wrong than right. Getting caught in what you think you should be doing can cause personal harm as you describe above or harm to a complete community as in Norway this weekend.
    Although it is tempting to get caught in arguing about right or wrong causes, I’m affraid this will not keep anyone from pursuing their own higher goals or causes.
    Taking love and openness away from a cause, as you describe, sounds to me like a very good way to approach this seemingly insoluble problem.

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