Q: One of the happiest people I know is my eight-year-old grandson, who is autistic. He is so creative in what he does, but he often plays entirely on his own. I’m wondering if autism is a defense against the world? It occurred when he was about two years old. I wonder if he’s operating at a higher spiritual level than most of us, or is it a lower level?
John: Higher, but not higher in a way that works or is conducive to this world. The form of it is its own restriction. He’s then, as awareness, free within himself to go high but he’s restricted in his outermost form. He’s restricted as a person to go high.
As awareness, he’ll be restricted to a particular style of opening, softening and moving in the way that his being is like, and that style will most not work in his person. Because it doesn’t work in his person he’ll naturally, through habit, refrain from his person, making him more and more difficult for others to find.
Being with him is still really easy as long as you are okay with opening and softening in a way that is particular to his style – his stylized movement of opening and softening. Within that, being together with him is easy. Step outside of that, and the two of you can’t be together.
The way to lead him out of that is for you to be with him completely on his terms, and then be more than what he is, still on his terms. That draws him out beyond what he’s accustomed to, but still allows for precisely the same beingness: the same beingness with different form. He’ll experience discomfort in that in the same way that anyone who moves past themselves experiences discomfort.
Q: Is what you say particular to this condition or is it the same for all people with different mental abilities, like Down’s syndrome – or can we not generalize? People often say these children are so happy in a different way, but I often wonder what that means.
John: He’ll be happy until you frustrate his experience. If he’s responding to what he knows, which enables him to move in the way that his own being is, then he can be taken past what he’s used to in himself which won’t feel good but he knows is good. It is good because it’s not only purely him, but there’s real form to it and it will be a stretch for himself