Spiritual Manifestations in Children

While children’s spirituality develops in stages, their engagement with it and expression of it in the modern secular world begins to decline in the early teenage years as it becomes “obscured, overlaid or even repressed by socially constructed processes” that contradict it.

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Beyond the three standard states of consciousness (waking, dreaming and deep sleep), regular meditation leads to a growing awareness of ever subtler states of consciousness. Their distinction helps to explain how it is that children can access very deep states of spiritual consciousness even with limited cognitive development. While their growth through the stages of consciousness depends on their age, life experience and education, they can encounter temporary deep states of consciousness at any age and any stage.

Stages can only be experienced like steps on a ladder, one after the other; and, generally speaking, having reached a stage it becomes a permanent acquisition – one rarely loses the capacities that accompany it. But states work differently: one can experience a very deep spiritual state at any age but it will be a temporary experience; unlike stages, states never become a permanent acquisition. Meditation gives rise to such temporary states. As we meditate, in the gap between thoughts, one’s state of consciousness is briefly altered and deepened, even though the self-conscious mind will not be aware of it at the time.

This model helps us to understand that while children may access deeply spiritual experiences through the practice of meditation their capacity to give expression to that experience will be limited by their age and their general stage of consciousness (including their cognitive and language development as children).

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