Parenting – Fatherhood/Motherhood is a spiritual path

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 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

Work of Art

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 that were 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.

Parenting is an amazing spiritual path, one that encourages you to learn and explore because you want to be at your best because you are this most important person in the lives of these tender young one’s. They are these incredible little sponges that absorb so much from everything and everyone in their world. We have far to go in realizing how important the early years are, and how they influence the entire life of every person. You can try to walk away from it, but it is with you nonetheless. See The Conjuring Trick

But even before these early years, at an even more subtle level another connection is attempted but it isn’t always achieved. The baby attempts to form a living bond with its mother, a sharing of self. In all mammals, this level of connection is vital. Without it the baby will not develop as a person unless it forms that bond with another adult who will act as a guide, an encourager and someone who has wider sympathies of awareness than the mother if she does not make or form that bond.

However, the bond is not simply that of having someone to feed you and protect you from harm. That simply feeds the infant body. But within that body is an infant consciousness, a living, feeling, learning and wonderful being. This ‘consciousness body’ also needs feeding to survive and grow. Babies abandoned and brought up by animals never become a human being. They remain at the psychological level of the animal rearing them. Such connection means a sharing of caring love, of ideas and thoughts, and a way of helping the infant consciousness to find ways to learn, to explore, to be curious and adventurous.

If we can give to a child imagination and curiosity about what is around them along with the feeling that there is joy in living and there is so much to learn, not just from books, but from watching Life and its creatures and learning the wonderful lessons they can teach us.

Self awareness, personality, personal existence, is not innate. It is not God given. It is a gift self aware people give to their children and each other. We literally create each other. Without such flowing, self giving – loving – connections we are either stunted in our growth, as are many fostered or abused children, or our growth stops at some point. We take each other in just as we take in the bodies of plants and animals. That is love. 

The Child

No matter whatever spiritual disciplines one may have read about or heard of or practice, in the end it appeared to me that the greatest is love, because love, kinship, relatedness, is the fundamental process in the cosmos. The more we give of it to others, including animals, the more we let of it into our life, the more we relate to the Whole. So, the first step is to give help, to feed the hungry, to be with someone in pain. This is not to say that we give to those who make a living out of being helpless, or forever being a crutch for those who need to learn how to walk on their own sturdy legs. But there are many who are trying to keep afloat in life and yet have a hole in their boat. Then we can reach out and give.

That is the first step. The following steps are to do with sustaining and extending the quality of that giving. This is obvious in motherhood. The sexual act is one of self-giving. From it though a baby may grow. So, now an even more intense self-giving is called for – a giving of one’s very body and soul, because the baby is incredibly needy. But its need is one in which you can see it is trying to grow, to become independent. It is not simply like a permanent parasitic creature. When the sperm and ovum meet in conception the greatest act of love is achieved, for there is total self giving and there is no longer a sperm and ovum because they have completely merged and a unique new being is formed.

Also 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. See Programmed

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. See The Nature versus Nurture Debate

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. For no plant or tree 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, 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. To explore it see Opening to Life

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, who is now an adult.

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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