Posted by: drjamm | April 16, 2009

Children’s natural dharma

You are the children of dharma.
Nothing can close your open heart.

– poem excerpt by Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche


I picked up my daughter and her friends from school today. During the car ride home, the children intensely discussed what community service their little-club-of-four could do. With great passion and a strong sense of urgency they talked about starting a petition to the Canadian Government to have mandatory protection of endangered species. The spotted owl and the Spirit Bear were mentioned as possible symbols to represent all endangered species. My daughter glibly mentioned that the red gazelle was already extinct — “off the map,” she said.

(“Oh no,” my Heart said,the kids have created slang for the word, extinction — “off the map.I am deeply sad about how resigned she was when she said it).

northern_spotted_owl1 imageschinooksalmonweb bmimg_25483_25483_redgazelle_tnimages-5

The children then discussed how many species in Canada are endangered versus extinct. Then one of the children said, “maybe the Dodo bird really isn’t extinct; maybe one or two escaped the island?” “Impossible,” said another friend, “the dodo is a flightless bird; it couldn’t have left the island…”

(and this remark made me laugh at its frank logic )

The children continued their passionate and determined conversation all the way home. “How will we get the word out?” one child asked. “I know, my mom has a blog — it’s public; we could put our petition up on her blog,” my daughter said with confidence.

(“Endangered species petitions added to my spiritual blog?” my logical mind asked. “Absolutely!” my Spirit declared.)

My Unitarian and Earth-based spirituality insists that I acknowledge as many connections as I can between my Self and the Natural World. I yearn to locate myself on the Interdependent Web of Life. When One on this planet is endangered, we All are endangered in some fundamental way. One of my most treasured spiritual practices is the removing of the artificial and socially constructed barriers between my human-ness and other creatures who inhabit the oceans and lands.


After I arrived home, I left the children to play outside. Then I walked into my kitchen and heard the radio playing Pink Floyd’s song, “Money,”

Money, its a hit.
Don’t give me that
do goody good bullshit.

I was so startled by the contrast of, on the one hand, the school children’s earnest call to action as a result of their moral-outrage-turned-into-service, and on the other hand the middle-finger-well-extended attitude of Pink Floyd’s song. I grew up listening to Pink Floyd. I guess part of me used to passively believe that “do goody good” WAS bullshit. But hearing this jaded cultural value of my youth smash up against the present day authentic urge in our children to do good has rattled me into a wide awake state of mind.

To do good and to protect all the creatures of world is a natural instinct in our children. To do good is the action that comes from the inborn calling of dharma — the need to be of service to others. The “do goody good bullshit” perspective is the toxic lens that comes when our children’s natural dharma urges are perpetually poisoned by our “sick” cultural values, such as, the love of money and the quest material acquisitions. This jaded “do goody good” perspective increases in our  children because their natural dharma work is suppressed by our cultures failure to actively value being of service to others –to both human- and animal-kind alike.

I have a question for you all: How can I help my ‘child-of-dharma’ keep her urge to follow her natural helping instincts, remain resistant to the toxic cultural lenses and pressures, and make it so ‘nothing can close her open heart?’

May our feathered, finned, and furry sisters and brothers continue to awaken our compassion and true humanity; and may we learn to share our wonderful world equitably with them.

*******       bright heart singing                              credits and links             *******

Poem Credit: The quote above is from the poem, “Fortunate Birth”
by Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche. I originally found this poem on

Photo credits: Endangered species poster by my daughter ‘Luna” (that’s her child-safe internet name). My daughter found the spotted owl photo on Cowboyangel’s Friends the Snow Leopard photo on The Animal Files The salmon photo on”Fishing for salmon in the Pacific …”
The spirit bear was found at The red gazelle painting was found at Red Gazelle Gazella rufina. “children doing homework” photo by

bright heart singing, copyright 2009 – jamm. Creative commons attribution, non-commercial sharing only (translation: feel free to quote me in context or use this entry but please always credit me for my work, thanks.)



  1. I believe that one way to extend this natural child dharma through the years is to move the ideals into action. Check out Jane Goodall’s “Roots and Shoots” institute, designed to help children develop innovative programs that help people, animals and the planet. I think the kids will love becoming involved.

    Also, since Obama’s election, it has become cool to help others in community service, whatever age you are. The world is changing…
    Caren Moon

  2. Thank you, for this link to “Roots and Shoots.” I love it! And it looks like kids can form local chapters of “Roots and Shoots” in their own schools and neighbourhoods. I can’t wait to tell my daughter about this organization.

    I am sending along an early wish that you will have a Happy Earth Day.

  3. i have made a spotted owl commitee at my school and i am 10 i will help.

  4. Thank you for helping out. The spotted owl needs your creative energy and positive outlook. Good luck with your school committee. You rock!

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    Whenever I take a look at your blog in Safari, it looks fine however when opening in IE, it has some overlapping issues.
    I just wanted to give you a quick heads up! Other than that,
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