Live and Love Like a Little One

February 4, 2008  

Here is a beautiful passage that Antony, a reader in Australia, sent to me. It poetically describes how adults can rekindle their love of life by thinking like a child. This is an eloquent, simple, and compelling example of what I mean by Goal-Free Living.

This is from Muhammad Ali: “Children make you want to start life over,” by Bodhipaksa, a Buddhist practitioner for 25 years and a parent for one year.

I look at my 14-month-old daughter and I see a being who is completely free from hatred. She has no regrets, no baggage. She doesn’t label herself, doesn’t judge herself. She doesn’t think of herself as being successful or a failure, popular or unpopular, good or bad, rich or poor, lucky or unfortunate.

And to her everything seems new and fresh. Today’s 20th reading of “Pat the Bunny” or “Barnyard Dance” is as delightful to her as the first (I wish that were the case for her parents). When she falls down she simply picks herself back up. She doesn’t lie there saying “I’ve tried walking. It doesn’t work. I’m just not a walking kind of person.”

The simplest things are intriguing. She’ll take immense pleasure simply from moving her hands. A leaf picked up on a walk is a world of fascination.

She has, in short, what Suzuki Roshi called “Beginner’s Mind.” And that’s something we all, certainly at times, want, and even crave.

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5 Responses to “Live and Love Like a Little One”

  1. Toli on February 4th, 2008 6:29 pm

    Stephen, you know I love your stuff, but you must reconsider something: live this year like the Patriots? Which means, basically doing yor best and then failing to achieve at the most important moment? This is why I side with the Giants: achieving your goals is always messy, but you get there in the end.

  2. Stephen Shapiro on February 4th, 2008 9:32 pm

    Toli, thanks for the comment. You made me laugh. And. you inspired me to write a blog entry on the Patriots loss and my theme. Check it out tomorrow, Feb 5. Steve

  3. Antony Woods on February 5th, 2008 4:20 am

    Hi Steve,
    I’ve been practicing from the story. When I feel down I remember that the baby took immense pleasure simply by moving her hands. (There is a big part of the human brain just for co-ordinating the thumb and forefinger.)
    Thanks for listening / Antony.

  4. Richard on February 12th, 2008 10:51 pm

    Steve and All,
    Clicking on the “Muhammad Ali link” lets one then click on “Tips on dealing with pain.”
    To me that is a remarkable article also.
    Again it’s at
    And yet, I bookmark a site like that to come back to when we aren’t so busy? – At least I am mindful about doing that. :-)

  5. Richard on February 17th, 2008 10:28 am

    “PS” Five days later,
    The link to modifying pain
    might help us get started on our taxes, or even make a dental appointment.
    By being mindful of our emotions when we think about these actions – we might find that we have a variety of feelings and might find that we can see those actions as “no big deal.”
    In other words, we stay in the present and with our feelings while imagining that “fearful or difficult” project.

    So maybe we can another version of the phrase: “how adults can rekindle their love of life by thinking like a child.” would be

    “how adults can rekindle their love of life by being aware of what we are thinking,feeling, and experiencing in the here and now.” – Even if we only do this occationally, we may find that we can see, and thus deal with, our future with “more faith, and less fear.” – or at least less faith in our fears. :-)