The absorbent mind is a universal characteristic of young children.It is unique to the first six years of life, The absorbent mind works unconsciously. Along with the sensitive periods, it motivates the child to seek out new experiences in the environment. The absorbent mind records these experiences in exact detail. The images the absorbent mind records are indelible, they will be with the child for the rest of his / her life.

Two Metaphors for How the Absorbent Mind Works

The Sponge

The absorbent mind works like a sponge. It absorbs as much as it can of anything with which it comes in contact. It has no destinations in what it absorbs.

The Camera

The absorbent mind takes in complete images that are fixed forever in the unconscious. There is no discrimination, it simply records that to which it is exposed. This is in contrast to the adult brain that stores things more like a painter, consciously choosing what details to include or omit. The adult mind only remembers what it notices or considers important.

Capabilities of the Absorbent Mind

The absorbent mind, in true Buddhist tradition, lives in the now. It is concerned only with its current chosen action and not the actions of the future. It is not a rational mind and often it does not make sense to the reasoning adult. The capabilities of the absorbent mind are expanding constantly, but much patience is needed for the rational adult.

Transition to the Reasoning Mind

In the development of the reasoning mind, the child will show points of consciousness. The child, in these moments, will have a conscious realization of a skill or piece of knowledge that he / she has attained. It is important not to mistake these moments for a full transition to the reasoning mind. The child will go in and out of the reasoning mind, until at last, the reasoning mind is fully formed around age 6.

The Result of the Absorbent Mind

Self-Construction: The child constructs every aspect of his / her individual personality through his / her own effort.

Adaptation: The child adapts completely to the particular culture and world he / she lives in by indelibly imprinting the raw material of his / her environment.

It provides a window into the child’s actions if one can ask; How does this action relate to self-construction and cultural adaptation?