The Mystery of Parenthood

Chris: But moving on from that, I wanted to ask you what your ideas and feelings regarding parenthood are.

Tony: From about the age of 13 I had become very interested in the philosophies of Eastern and Western metaphysics. Such philosophies are full of teachings concerning reincarnation and karma. Some of the ideas presented were also about parenting and being involved in helping a being to incarnate in the body you help to form as parents.

As the years have passed my understanding and views about how, as a parent, we provide an opportunity and environment in which a spirit can incarnate have become more refined. Nevertheless, I still believe that as parents we are part of a continuum very few of us are really aware of. I believe the physical and psychological health of the parents is vital, and that we should not undertake parenthood lightly. I don’t mean we should be deadly serious about it, but I do feel that we need to make sure we have the right atmosphere and environment for a child to be born into.

Because of my interest in this I have devoted quite a big area on my web site to reporting peoples dreams, impressions and experiences of readying themselves to receive and give birth to an incoming being. But of course, the birth is just the beginning of being parents.

In some of my writings about this I have said that being a parent, especially if you are the mother, is one of the most demanding, fulfilling, challenging and rewarding experiences any of us can meet. Unfortunately, northern European and American attitudes to parenthood have moved into a strange artificial condition for many people. I see some mothers wanting to be independent of their babies almost from birth. Yet being parents is one of the most fundamental expressions of being alive. It extends and nurtures life. It is a doorway through which the future emerges. And it can also be a way of exploring one of the greatest mysteries of life – the emergence of a conscious personality from a tiny mammalian life form. I believe that the personality of a child is not innate in the physical body. Left alone without being cared for or spoken to, no personality would spontaneously bloom in the body of the child.

Father and child

Any personality that does develop is an amazing weaving of parental and social relationships, interlaced with the quality and hereditary traits carried in the body. Nature and nurture work together within the framework of infinite possibilities.

Parenting is like a work of art, and the canvas you work with, while not a complete blank it has an incredible range of possibilities. As can been seen from studies of poor parenting, and nurturing parenting, you can raise a stunted criminal personality, or a gifted radiant person from twins and separated at birth. Some parts of the art need much work. It might involve some pain and struggle. But great art is never done without a full engagement of the artist. So we need to bring to our parenthood all our creative skills. You need to use your wisdom and discernment. I believe one should not let failures turn us from creating what can be a great painting.

But looking at parenting from the light of personal transformation, being a parent is a spiritual path. Strangely I have never seen this mentioned in books on mysticism, yoga or the inner life. Nevertheless parenthood has all the disciplines of great spiritual endeavour.  In the incredibly intimate relationship between mother and baby, or parents and baby, you meet the mystery of LIFE face to face. In various spiritual disciplines or belief systems this is stated in a variety of ways. In Christianity it appears as, “Inasmuch as you have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, you have done it unto me.” In other words you are dealing with an expression of the divine in dealing with your child. In helping your child to discover its own depths and potential, you are helping Life to discover itself.

Perhaps the greatest preparation for this approach to parenthood is for you to have opened your life to the influence of your own Core or Spiritual influence. This amounts to an attempt to live your life with fuller awareness of how who you are and what you do interacts with the depths and heights of life around you, within you, and beyond your present knowledge. See Opening to Life

As parents we do not simply help create a body for a being who has never existed before. We are a doorway for the spirit to enter on another stage of an eternal journey into discovering its wonder and place in the scheme of things. If we are open to it, we may consciously take part in this. My own experience of this was when I dreamt that a being wanted to enter into my wife. It asked me to have sex with my wife to form a body for it. We did this and I then dreamt my wife was pregnant with a son.

We need to remember that we evolved from a single cell, which is a seed from which all life forms evolved from, doesn’t become old or die because it is immortal, for it keeps dividing and doesn’t die. In dividing it constantly creates copies of itself, but as it does  so it gathers new experience, it changes what is copied, so becomes the ‘seed’ for multi-cellular organism. We all started from the original one cell, and we, you and I,  are the result of gathered experience.

No plant or creature grows from a dead seed, and each living seed carries within it all the past gathered from all its forebears. So, the seed in your mother’s womb is as old as and even older than human kind, and you carry that wisdom or memories in you. But in this life you developed a new brain, and the memories, education and programming you gathered this time are what you built your personality from, but beneath that is a very ancient self.

Finding this very ancient self, hidden as it is by all your personal thinking and opinions, you find you are free from all the painful emotions, suicidal urges and personal hurts.

One of the most powerful things to recognise about parenthood however, is the connection between the emerging identity that we as parents care for, and language. In some of my explorations of the unconscious I at times met the experience of being in my mother’s womb. I discovered that my identity is rooted in the integrity I felt in the womb. This integrity was a physical thing, a sense of the cells and organs of my body existing as an individual organism. The integrity arose out of the process in me of defending myself as an organism against any disrupting influence such as infections. But onto that integrity as it stretched into my early years, something strange, wonderful, frighteningly powerful was added – language.

I believe that language is the software of the brain. It is a software package that radically alters the state of awareness existing previous to its installation. Without language there is no self-awareness. With it an unlimited series of concepts are formed, including the words ‘I’ – ‘Me’ – ‘Myself’ – ‘Mine’ – ‘You’. Around those concepts, those words, develops or emerges, the amazing phenomenon of self-awareness.

When I stand on the shoreline of the ocean of language, and gaze over it, all I can manage to say is, “Dear God!” or “Wow!” Its immensity, its impact, is so immeasurable, so astounding, that it is beyond proper description. I have called it a software package because there are so many languages, and because each language brings us a different way of perceiving experience, and involves us in different cultural values. Each language is, in fact, a treasure house of a particular culture, its attitudes, its history and its connection with other races and languages.

But the important point I am arriving at in regard to parenting a child is that because a baby who is not taught language does not develop self awareness, does not become a person, it is important to realise that the person it does become is largely conditioned by language too. The promise a baby has in becoming a human being, is shaped almost entirely by what is passed on to it by its parents, teachers and culture. This is an incredibly important point in considering the evolution of mind or personality. The new born baby, if raised by a wolf mother, becomes a wolf. It does not become a human person. If it is raised by a bear it becomes a bear. If it is raised by an ignorant and brutal mother and culture it becomes an ignorant and brutal person. If it is raised with love and nourished emotionally and intellectually, it becomes someone capable of love and high intelligence.

However, there is still something that is not said here. It is that as a human baby we are potentially anything, and being raised as a human being might be as limiting to our potential as being raised a wolf would be in regard to our potential to learn language. This may sound a silly idea, but if the baby were raised by a being superior to humans, the likelihood is that the baby would become more than we commonly experience as a human. In a fictional way, Robert Heinlein explores this in his book Stranger in a Strange Land. What I feel is really the greatest thing to pass on to a parent is for me to say – Give much thought to language and how it shapes your view of and experience of the world and each other. Then pass on what you learn in the way you teach your child language.

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