Highlights Pt. 2, Fri., Nov. 19
You can spend the rest of your life praying at the edge of a
cliff thinking that you are going someplace, to some
ultimate nirvana or God that will relieve you somehow of
your ignorance and suffering, but which is actually nothing
more but the demonstration of your lack of realization, your
lack of 'intelligence'. Boo-hoo, so what else is new?? Do
you see what I mean? If you really want to realize
something, really get smart, realize what you are doing, and
what your life has been about up to this point. Stop
seeking now! See, and therefore undermine, what it is that
you are doing, what you *are*, which is and has been, a
'self'-ish game of looking for a payoff, a way out of
ignorance and suffering - which is in fact suffering
itself. What it comes down to is that it is your life, you
can spend continuing on as you are now, seeking in
ignorance, or you can decide to get smart right here and
now. It's your choice. This is sober waking up stuff, this
is not an intellectual or feeling matter, no matter how many
emotions you can generate about your predicament. Good
luck, I wish you happiness.
Melody wrote: "It seems I can apply nondual principles
anywhere else except when it comes to my own child. Is
there a middle road?"
Here is what I can offer. The Eye in the Center of
relationship seems to perceive most clearly
when I discern between:
common sense and projected expectation
concern and fear
my outer child and my inner child
Authentic and conditioned voice
passivity and surrender
a good choice and the right choice and.. when I listen to
the guidance which passes between our hearts.
I have been sculpted by my children. They have taught me to
listen deeply and then listen even deeper. They have taught
me to speak my truth but recognize that it is only mine,
then listen to theirs. They have taught me that their
guidance comes from the same source as mine...
the great existential leveler. They have taught me
humility, reverence and gratitude. They have taught me that
love survives countless tears in the heart's fabric.
There has been much written this week which can be read
through the moniker of 'parenting' (in fact you could
substitute 'parent' for 'therapist' in Dan's interesting
post and see the mirror he offers)..
Ben: So I ask you again in a different way how you stay
centered in the silent stillness wherever you go?
xan: Awareness itself is effortless.
Dan: This is exactly what makes the Middle Way so difficult
It's not a Way that can be followed, it's not a something
that can be understood.
"For me, the important thing is to notice these emotional
tendencies that might be termed "search" and "escape" or
"desire" and "fear". An additional challenge of Buddhism is
its assertion of compassion. How can "compassion" (or love
in Christianity) be asserted if there is no "essentialism"?
Tim: What is 'love' or 'compassion' that is void of
Dan: Buddhism points us in a direction where
conceptualization doesn't "fit" anymore, where ideas about
self or not-self don't "get it".
Similar moments can occur in therapy (although the aims of
Buddhism can be considered somewhat different) - when a
person reaches an instant where the old concepts don't work
and new concepts are not in place."
"A unique and valuable aspect of counseling is that it
provides an ongoing dialogue as a means for
self-examination, a unique kind of mirror is provided
(hopefully with compassion). In fact, counseling can be
done from a nondual perspective, in my opinion and
experience. A nondual perspective means being able to
resonate with persons, be able to recognize the "shared
ground," as well as the ways that "illusory concepts" can
"Therapy in some ways can be viewed as an encounter in a
[The landscape of parenting!]
"Therapy that works leads a person toward greater balance,
awareness of how they direct energy, ability to notice the
consequences of thoughts and feelings; often there are
positive effects from releasing distorted self-thoughts,
such as self-blame, over-responsibility, guilt, negativity
toward self and others. Good therapy enhances openness,
supports questioning, and is compatible with spiritual
awakening, although its focus is definitely more "worldly".
"Therapists simply provide a service. They don't have the
power to "make" someone into anything. The people I work
with are clients and I'm a consultant."
may the knot release gently..
Don't have teenagers yet, however the question certainly has
come up round here. My short answer about 'our kids' looks
at this as one of "being".
The two extremes are: 'I have an absolute duty to help
them...' or, 'Allowing them to find themselves, by
I do not see any convenient middle road.
What is "being", what is being a parent? In both, knowing
and separating the chaff, personal garbage, from the
non-personal experience of being is primary. And then I am
as honest with the other, as I can be. This "honesty",
seems to hinge upon purity of completeness of step one.
After that I understand I have given all I can, it is no
different than here with the adults, we chose our own
teachers, and experiences. The Sum is enlightening, A
parent, but a small facet.
Is it too much to accept, that we are given exactly what
we've all asked for, and never more than we can hold?
As the step father of a teenager (who I love as my own), I
would like to take a crack at your question. Being a step
dad, I get to have a unique perspective, and I have noticed
that I have fewer expectations than my wife, her family, and
her ex hubby. I think that there are several reasons for
Reason number 1 is that I have no genetic connection to the
girls (15 & 10), so when they do something that on the
surface appears stupid or wrong, I do not consider it a slam
on the family ancestry or heritage. Sometimes, I kind of
snicker :o) Bad Ben! This means that I can step back and
treat the girls like I would any other person who I dearly
I stand a better chance of being listened to because I am
not dealing with the situation as the "father image." We
can cut the role playing and get straight to heart of the
matter. The communication and interaction is not a
controlling one, but one where I am telling them what I am
seeing and how this translates in my experience. This helps
to explain why I think it is a loving action that I am
taking even though she (the teenager) does not see it that
way. (Know that I am dealing with a retro rocketed, nitro
burning, hormone laden ego that is gearing up for a full
frontal attack from the direction of who she thinks she is
if I cop a role as dad.) I ask the teenager her side of the
coin, and if the circumstances are not dire, we negotiate a
mutual agreement, and I establish consequences if the
agreement is broken. (I absolutely follow through despite
all emotional appeals if the agreement is broken - loving
In other words, I don't ACT ON the initial thought. This
opening allows me the room to reverse any initial nuclear
reactions on my part. This gives both of us much more
flexibility. There is spaciousness. It takes us out of
roles. If I come on hard as the "mean old step daddy" (yes
I make this mistake despite all this wonderful talk), then
it is funny how quickly she takes on the "you don't
understand me you old fart" and "you have never been my age"
This leads into the nondual parenting that I have read in
portions of Jean Klein's book "The Ease of Being." I
enjoyed this book very much! I recommend it. First of all
he says that we must first accept ourselves as our real
nature. Once we do this, he says that we lose the impetus
to strive. So first, we have to see our part in the play,
and feel how the body tension, and psychological roles kick
in. He suggests that we have to first see, hear, and feel
how we are trying to be a somebody (mother, father, doctor,
nurse, provider, leader, etc..). So in essence we see our
stuff, first. No blame. We just see it and are with it.
And when I am wrong or overreact I apologize rather than
have this controlling relationship with who I think I ought
to be. I reserve the right to say "I was wrong." Parents
can be wrong. We are allowed. Freedom first!
This might sound silly, but I have noticed that there is an
ownership that appears in families. Like when I called my
Dad to tell him that I entered a treatment program for
alcoholism, he said whilst crying "your an Ames and you will
come out of this on top." Of course, it was surrender and
being totally defeated by my own ego not being an Ames that
marks 11 years sober and the wonderful life I lead. At any
rate, it was his own invested point of view that caused him
to frame the situation in this way. It is how he dealt with
me, and it is why we had a bad relationship for years. Much
Another story, for another time.
Reason number 2 - "The Tough Nut" This is if you have a kid
like I was. If my parents gave me latitude, then I did
everything I could get away with behind their back. If my
parents came down hard, then I found a way to sneak around
them albeit in limited freedom. Despite very "street wise"
folks, I just got better at the art of deception. I was
hell bent, and all they could do is minimize my impact at
home until I was on my own. In this case, this was the best
they could do at the time. The lessons were going to come
from a direct encounter with living.
The girls know that there are certain behaviors that
represent a definate crossing of the line, especially the
teenager. I have brought them up, and we have discussed
them. I have told them that if they give me no choice I
will clamp down on them hard not because I want to, but in
the interest of love, peace, and freedom in our home. We
have a very peaceful home! I spell out the consequences of
each thing clearly, and I tell them that I will execute
without fail. I have learned from being the tough nut that
the most loving thing can also be on the surface the most
distasteful. I hate being limiting, but I will." Haven't
had to very often. Maybe once or twice a year. I am very
fortunate so far.
So inside this boundary of extreme behavior which is where
most of the stuff that I encounter, there is allowing for
mistakes on both sides. And when I live in the moment, and
the moment says "I am pissed", then I try to take a break
before engaging. When I don't, then I apologize like
another human being, and it gives us all much more freedom
from the overhead that goes along with the parent head trip
and trap. If I am living in my head, I am hanging out in a
I never ever realized it until I was adult age, but all I
ever wanted was to be accepted for who I was irregardless of
who I appeared to be on the surface. In the day to day
piddly stuff, I just wanted Love without having to pass a
test! When that didn't happen, then I decided to take
matters into my own hands. This was bad news and led to
years of dysfunctional behavior.
Thanks to some very loving people, I found out that I had to
be first in line for this acceptance of self on a surface
level. They just loved, accepted, and allowed me into it.
As I have developed, I now realize that I AM. And I AM much
more than the surface level definitions, although I do
forget to remember.
I apologize for the length of this response! I present it
in the spirit of service and love for your consideration.
Generally speaking, I find that if we guide their paths and
not choose their paths we can eliminate the tension
created. This tension leads to a shut down of communication
all together which is 'not'what is needed.
Children start 'very' nondual and their choices are
obviously for the moment only. Don't worry, they grow out
of this :o)... The key I believe is to demonstrate a
nondual perspective in the specific moment when things are
moving away from centeredness and they can 'observe' this
rather than preparing them 'before' they can see what 'may'
happen (which they object to because 'they know' and are not
stupid) or chastising them 'after' it happens where it can
not be changed.
Ultimately, their life decisions are their's and, as far as
I am concerned, that all important connection of
communication and keeping those lines open should be the
focus of the parent. You can do much more if you are
talking and they can talk to you.
I use a story about a master carpenter teaching an
apprentice to build a house. The apprentice gets angry and
upset and yields to his urges to do it his way...
just like the master carpenter did when he was
apprenticing... "but it was different then" says the master
carpenter... but we know otherwise... :o)
Teach them how to 'use' the 'tools' don't build the house
for them. They will learn how to build soon enough when the
building inspectors (other) come around.
I resonate with this issue of yours. I have two sons who
are now in their early and mid-twenties and I still face
this in myself although they are 'out on their own.'
I see it as a conflict of what I have learned through
cultural expectations with what I know as the inherent
capacity of children to learn and express in their own
ways. In the U.S. there is a great emphasis on personal
value as the ability to produce and achieve along certain
lines. As parents we are urged to begin the pressure to
achievement even in infancy (or womb) with 'stimulating'
experiences. With ourselves we are ever watchful of
expectations for our own performance as parents.
As I see it, what we can be more watchful for is the
wholeness which is the essence of each of us and which is
already performing exquisitely. We humans have glorified
our intellect and our abilities in technology, but who of us
could produce the intricacy of a galaxy, a physical body, a
world? The same intelligence, love and creativity that is
manifesting - living through - our universe is living
through you and me and our kids.
The *illusion* is that we are separate from this conscious
life force and somehow must manipulate ourselves into being
The challenge is to *surrender* to that - beginning with
cultivating trust in this life power and withdrawing our
trust in the lesser powers.
Personally, I never felt I was "raising" my sons. The
family was something we were doing together, although my
responsibility and role was quite different from theirs.
Fortunately for all of us, my sons had little to zero
tolerance for expectations that were out of synch with their
nature. They caught me so many times that I learned to
catch myself at it - and just stop. It probably helped that
my boys were never in public school and did not get much
caught up in that part of the cultural programming. These
days I support them in any way I can in what they want to
do. We are partners.
I am confident that as you look more closely into yourself
you will find you already have a heart-knowing of what is
the most supporting way you can be with your son at any
Whenever your kids are out of control, you can take comfort
from the thought that even God's omnipotence did not extend
to God's kids.
After creating heaven and earth, God created Adam and Eve.
And the first thing He said was: "Don't"
"Don't what?" Adam replied.
"Don't eat the forbidden fruit," God said.
"Forbidden fruit? We got forbidden fruit? Hey, Eve...we
got forbidden fruit!"
"Don't eat that fruit!" said God.
"Because I am your Father and I said so!" said God,
wondering why he hadn't stopped after making the elephants.
A few minutes later God saw his kids having an apple break
and was angry. "Didn't I tell you not to eat the fruit?"
the First Parent asked.
"Uh huh, " Adam replied.
"Then why did you?"
"I dunno" Eve answered.
"She started it!" Adam said.
" Did not!"
Having had it with the two of them, God's punishment was
that Adam and Eve should have children of their own.Thus the
pattern was set and it has never changed. But there is
reassurance in this story. If you have persistently and
lovingly tried to give them wisdom and they haven't taken
it, don't be hard on yourself. If God had trouble handling
children, what makes you think it would be a piece of cake
Advice for the day: If you have a lot of tension and you get
a headache, do what it says on the aspirin bottle: Take two
and keep away from the children.
As I read thru your responses I found myself shaking my
head, thinking sure, sure, I know this....realizing that on
a different day, I could have offered similar offerings to
someone else. But this week my world seems to be crashing
in on me.
My son's bringing home an 'F' in chemistry this last week on
his report card (the same son who tells everyone he wants to
be a marine biologist!) was the the 'capper' to a week of
I knew the 'F' was mine, and that Joseph had paid a big
price in gifting it to me.
These past few days, in addition to other 'self' images
being shattered, I am forced to see how what I *believed*
to be true about my parenting... and how I have actually
been parenting are more often than not...inconsistent.
I *believed* that I had been the parent many of you
described in your responses. But my son helped me to see
this week where I was not. I must say, I can't remember
ever feeling such a failure. To know that I have caused a
loved one to suffer, albeit unintentionally, causes more
pain than I can describe.
Judi talks often of the need for heartbreak.
Funny, that the heartbreak I'm experiencing this week, has
nothing to do with my response to what other people have
done to me, but rather the heartbreak of seeing my very own
self in the light of day.
I feel like Humpty Dumpty in a thousand pieces today.
Yes, I know that those thousand pieces are not 'me'...
I know that intellectually, anyway. But today, I'm feeling
Vishnu cannot do his work until Shiva is finished.
Many a forest depends on lightning-kindled fire for its
renewal. When ones self-image as "good parent," "decent
and, ultimately, "sincere seeker" falls away in an
augenblick, the way may well be cleared for something
utterly new, something literally unimaginable. Nothing in
our introspections, our careful studies, our meticulously
managed lifestyles has the sheer, sudden, spontaneous power
of that lightning bolt, that unexpected, unbidden immolation
of all we so smugly assume is who we are.
Joseph will somehow survive that "F," Mel, and so will
whatever there is of you that is incombustible, that which
abides eternally, world without end, amen.
Dear Melody, Thank you for your open heartedness about
parenting and feelings of inadequacy. Seeing expectations
in the light of day, can be very cleansing.
But this cleansing process, is often one of a broken heart.
Many times we carry around expectations and projections of
'how it should be', without ever noticing it or recognizing
it as an expectation. When confronted with these kind of
situations, especially in the role of a parent, these
unnoticed tendencies can come to the surface and can be
If we are willing to see those tendencies, willing to see
our own self constructed ideas of 'how we should be as a
parent', and our inadequacy of living up to those
expectations, then these situations can be a very liberating
vehicle. Parenting is not about meeting some imagined goal
and term, but somehow, (unconsciously?), we may carry them
I do not have teenagers (yet), and I am still to experience
that part of parenting, so I guess I still have a lot of
learning to look forward to.
As a parent, I do have one certainty though: I may be
completely wrong about everything. This is a certainty that
the mind just cannot deal with, because it leaves it empty
handed. It leaves only beingness in charge. The mind may
be worried and wonder, think, and ponder, while tip-toe-ing
on the scale of opposites of right and wrong. But
beingness, including *being* a parent, only *is*. It is
upon this beingness that the whole scenario of parent and
child resides. Without this beingness, there would be no
scenario for any worry, or any effort, or any success, or
any failure. It is this primary beingness that permits me
to act, and then proceed to judge this act as 'wrong' or
'right'. This fundamental undercurrent exists within every
situation, and/or vice versa: it is every situation, that
exists within this fundamental undercurrent.
When I stop looking through the filter of 'how I would like
to see the scenario evolve', I can rest in this beingness,
and just let the interactions evolve, including my own part
in it. This doesn't mean that my part as a parent is any
easier. Situations may demand certain actions that I may
not like at all; it is just so different when acting from a
place where nothing can be avoided, nor needs to be
avoided. It is different when life is lived openly to every
challenge it has to offer, and fearlessly bungy-jump into
the present situation, only to find, that what I am, is
indestructible. That what my child is, is indestructible.
And that the roles we play, and the settings for this
relationship, do constantly evolve and change.
Oh yes, I do get angry at my kids! When they need an angry
mum, that anger is my gift to them!
They tend to give me an impossible time at the grocery
store, they mess up my house, they continually destroy
everything I sort of value, they lack any basic respect for
my privacy, they hardly ever say "thank you" when they
receive something. So, yes I do get furious. When I hear
someone say that 'conditioning' should be minimized, I
disagree whole heartedly. I am 'pro' conditioning. There
are certain basic rules that I value, and believe contribute
to our ability to peacefully share our space as inhabitants
of this earth.
But still, amidst all of this, I am willing to be completely
wrong about everything, and correct myself when necessary.
I really don't know if my way is a good way, neither do I
care to know, because this is the way it *is*, and that is
good in itself, regardless of my opinion Looking through my
filters, I may view myself as doing the right thing.
Looking through your filters, you may view me as doing the
Whatever the outcome, whatever the judgement, it is always
based upon a preconceived idea of 'what it should look
like'. It takes courage to be willing to view oneself as
doing the wrong thing. It may break every last piece of the
shell. But believe me Humpty Dumpty, there is a treasure
inside that shell that can only be found when breaking it.
Thank you again for your openness, In deep appreciation, I
wish you love and courage.
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