“In daily life I make less distinctions between reality and fiction than I make in books. My life has all of these fantastic ingredients, although it sounds unbelievable. I don’t know, but…what I believe is that people don’t see themselves in this way. Around them extraordinary things happen, but they don’t perceive them […] I really believe that there is another reality or that the reality is more extensive than one imagines, but that the education that one receives has a tendency to kill it. I also believe that children have divinatory faculties, because they are living in a wider reality until they are put into a reality of a mental system regulated by the society”
Gabriel García Marquez (1927-2014). Colombian novelist and journalist, winner of the Nobel prize for Literature in 1982. Extract taken from the interview “ Literature, love and other demons” by Ezequiel Martínez. 1994. Published in Ñ Revista de Cultura (Cultural Magazine) from the Newspaper El Clarín from Argentina. 2015.
Sounds, colors, odors, flavors…songs, faces, pets, grass…each meeting with the world opens new doors for the consciousness of the child. During childhood existence reveals itself generously and the plasticity of the senses permits the absorption of everything. With the arrival of the first words, sensations are baptized and the possibility appears to narrate existence. In these first years of flexibility and first names, the little ones experience the power of fantasy: their short legs want to be wings, and they look to submerge their hands in the mud, to travel around the skin of the trees and hug the clouds, mountains and the rivers. In this universe heroes and fairies exist; monsters and hidden worlds live inside closets, and they can become a fireman, a princess, a knight or a goddess. Childhood is the time where nature speaks directly to the human being.
Nutrition and protection are essential for development of the child, but the ingredients to create fantasy are affection, stimuli, stories and magic. The little ones that make the world their toy, without violence and with the basic necessities satisfied, experience infinity and live in detachment. The sandcastles, the refuges in the woods and the stone forts are his, until the waves, the rain, and the river show him their impermanence. The reality of a childhood lived this way is so high like the stars, and so wide like the ocean; this child tastes, smells, bites and hugs the world without controlling it.
As the years go by, this intimate relationship with the world and its fantasy starts to yield terrain with the human reality. In this moment the children meet the Culture (in the broadest sense). Their eyes receive adult’s glasses. The “network of meanings” knitted for centuries from language, interpretations and experiences presents them with the rules: how to call things; how to treat the experience and creatures; what is the relationship with the body, the feelings and the mind; what is good or bad; what to believe in and who to obey; what is sacred, profane, permitted or prohibited; what should we dream…a multitude of threads that intertwine until a quilt is sewn over what was the world.
The child grows and the uniform made up from the Culture becomes the only reality. And it is as if the last memories of fantasy appear as unexplained phenomenon or if the inner impulse of childhood appears to play or to question the establishment, the normalizing power of the Culture and its recourses denounces, dissuades, judges, censors or represses. The Culture guards the wisdom of the human race; it provides protection and identity; it avoids starting each teaching from zero, and regulates the knowledge and new experiences that can adhere to a longer spiral of tradition without putting at risk the stability of the system.
This stabilizing quality of the Culture, with its history and programming, surrounds and penetrates us. It permits us to experience a certain security and comfort. But when we reproduce this “network of meanings” with a mechanical form and without an inquiry, consciously or unconsciously, we renounce our potential for self development, and we abandon the possibility to contribute to this tradition from our Being and we are unaware of the other quality of the Culture: renovation.
After the learning from the Culture as tradition and stability, we have the possibility to experience its capacity for transformation. To discover this other quality, it is necessary to employ the instruments of the will and the intelligence, with the purpose to understand the tensions between the traditions and the existence of an inner universe. With the use of these two instruments, we start to glimpse an inner nature independent of programming. Besides this, we discern the folds and holes in the Culture that permit an intervention and a transformation. This perspective of being observers of ourselves and the reality permits us to detain ourselves, to question, to understand and to change. This realization reveals the possibilities of an opening and a creation where we, the human beings can transcend our condition from just being parts of an assembly line to convert ourselves into creators.
This is one of the most challenging but gratifying moments of our lives. It is intense because we discover that almost everything that we considered to be “ourselves” comes from our surroundings, that our likes and dislikes, dreams, ideals and even our deepest beliefs have their roots in the Culture. However, this sensation of nakedness and fragility can also be a path to a discovery of a deeper consciousness, where we can observe our biography, enter into contact with the child consciousness and experience again the fantasy of our early years.
When we experience this nakedness, two paths open to connect us again with the Culture: reactivity or creativity. Along the reactive path appear the options of rebelliousness and retreat. In these two options the reality as we know it becomes the adversary. In the first case, rebelliousness, the objective is to use actions that show the failings of the Culture and weaken its authority. In the second, retreat, the aim is to utilize contemplation and discipline to be distant from the impurities of the world and find refuge in an inner silent world. With different levels of depth and results, the rebel and the hermit denounce the traps of the Culture; for instants they feel freedom in the combat and the elevation, but they lose the connection with the world of the child and his bliss. In the solitude there is an incomplete realization, well although they go beyond the rigidity of the Culture, they cannot always explore a harmonious contact with others and what is created; and they lose the possibility to enjoy the Diversity.
In front of the limitations of this reactivity, the creative path appears. In this stage the fire of the rebel is required, but without his rejection, to maintain firm in the search for the Truth. Also it is necessary to have discipline in the haven of the hermit, although with the disposition to experience the world. Also it is fundamental to have a conscious development of the Intelligence (buddhi, in Sanskrit). This means, the mind will serve as an instrument to arrive to a superior state, intuitive, capable of reconciling us with the world and the spirit of a child. This process has various stages: convert ourselves in observers of the culture, resist our impulses to follow it unconsciously, contemplate our inner nature without the illusion from our outer uniforms, go beyond our limited consciousness and explore the multiple possibilities of our Being in the world. It is not enough to reject, to criticize inertly or to hide oneself away, the creative path implies contemplation, dialogue, openness and a widening of our perspective, emotion, thought and intuition. From this intelligence and free spirit it is possible to enter again in contact with the world and perceive again the fantasy.
From this perspective, the way to know learned from the culture (captures, separates, analyses and judges) gives way to an experience of the world, where the existence penetrates, unifies, apprehends and invigorates. If it is possible to say it, we pass from knowing the world to live in the spirit, from a Being that is superior and authentic, in relation with an enjoyable world and open to change. From this perspective it is possible to experience the creation and the Delight in life. Also, we open the doors to imagine diverse ways to Be in the world, and contribute new meanings that enter into the network of the culture, serving to create life, widening the consciousness of the human family.
The fantasy then constitutes the foundation and the goal in the search of this quality of opening and transformation of the culture. The analysis of our history and the reality where we live, contemplation, devotion, service and these disciplines that reveal to us our inner Being should awaken in us the qualities of the child that integrates and enjoys the world. Spirituality should not mean a restriction or a rejection, it should be synonymous with beauty, freedom and creation. He who has stripped himself of the programming imposed upon him by the culture and has found his authentic nature is capable of creating his own thoughts and actions, beautiful and full of life. The nature of the mature child is imaginative; it finds the fantasy in the world; explores the experiences so that the spirit blossoms; it learns to Love through the realization of the unity with all existence.