Jaden and Willow Smith Drop Some Zen

“No one knows what the fuck was going on in that interview,” says Vice Magazine. “A game of bullshit tennis,” says the Guardian. “Zen gibberish,” says Vulture Magazine. The recent interview with Jaden and Willow Smith in T Magazine has been getting a lot of attention over the past couple of days. A brief look at the comments section indicates that readers are pretty much equally divided between admiration and utter disdain for the children of Will and Jada Pinkett Smith based on their unconventional responses to the questions recently posed to them.

Each of the aforementioned articles have disappointed me with their sloppy and superficial analysis of these two kids. Jaden and Willow are the easiest types of targets – privileged children of megastars. While some of their answers are unmistakably arrogant and even delusional (Jaden goes so far as to say their musical collaboration changed the world and made people more honest), focussing on that aspect of their characters detracts from the content of what they are sharing. There’s some really good stuff here that warrants a second reading.

Having practiced meditation regularly for the past twenty-three years has given me insight into the world that Jaden and Willow are pointing to. To understand their language, one has to first experience one’s self as the witness of thoughts, rather than as the thinker. This awareness is quite unusual, so it is no surprise that they are catching a lot of flack from people who think they’re just making up bullshit. To what degree Jaden and Willow actually live in this awareness only they can know, but they certainly know something about it, even if it’s mostly from the Osho and quantum physics books they’ve read. When Willow responds with the now famous line, “because living,” when they are discussing the relativity of time, she is actually saying something quite profound – that trying to construct a conceptual framework around the nature of time will always be a futile endeavor because it takes the person having the experience of time out of the experience itself.

When Jaden says, “That’s another thing: What’s your job? What’s your career? Nah, I am,” that can be interpreted as follows – being human is gloriously and infinitely bigger than words can describe, and by using language to create an image of what we do as an occupation, we have thoughts and judgments about ourselves and others which creates a fragmented notion of each other, distancing ourselves from seeing each other as whole and unique beings. Jaden’s musings on duality take a bit of a stretch when he starts talking about how the thought of an apple creates the thought of the opposite of an apple, but the core (no pun intended) of what he’s saying is true – thoughts of one thing tend to create an opposing thought – light and dark, good and bad, etc, which, ultimately, are measurements based on imagined criteria (i.e. where on the spectrum between “good” and “bad” does good become bad, and who is the awareness that determines that?)

They describe “prana,” the Sanskrit word for “life force” as the type of energy a baby has before they are conditioned by the world, and that the child’s prana diminishes as they grow older. Prana exists everywhere and can’t diminish, but a child will certainly develop physical, mental and emotional blocks with time which disrupt the natural flow of prana throughout their bodies.

There is not a whole lot else in this interview that is all that profound. Are these kids infatuated with themselves? Absolutely. But so are a lot of kids their age. All in all, they seem pretty well-balanced and bright. Can’t wait to hear them talk religion with Suri Cruise in a few years.