I am watching my son play in the playground. He climbs the hot metal stairs on the backside of the slide, throws sand down its face and aims himself straight at it as if it were an obstacle. He giggles when he hits the patch of sand that has collected at the bottom. He is fascinated by the way he can use his body to knock it off the slide. I have been watching the other kids and their parents at the park for an hour now. When you practice awakened presence, insight comes in response to watching life unfold before you. It is this insight that transforms into ‘teachings’.
When perspective changes, so many things change. Your beliefs change, your way of relating to the world changes. Your choices change. My perspective is naturally very different because of the fact that I came to this world without ‘filters’. I could not disconnect from the non physical life before this life. As such, it was much harder for me to truly identify with this life or my identity in this life.
Whenever we associate something with our self, we identify with it. It becomes part of us. We make it the same as us. This is what attachment really is. It is identification. And if that thing we identify with is ever threatened, we experience it as a threat to our own survival (a personal attack). One could argue that identification is a good thing when we identify with things that cause us to feel good. But the thing is, the minute we identify with something that causes us to feel good, it contains within it the seeds of it’s own opposite. Worthiness carries the seeds of unworthiness; excitement carries the seeds of disappointment.
Because the ego is essentially a sense of separate self, one could say that identity is the ego. And we identify with something anytime we see something as “I, me, my or mine”; any more so than we see something else as “I, me, my or mine”. In fact, you can clearly see what you are identified with by noticing when you use these words. This sense of identification is much different than the sense of oneness. Because nothing is excluded when inclusion occurs. Therefore, you can say the words “my child is me” from a space of unhealthy identification or say the words “my child is me” from a space of awareness of expansive oneness. Identification is not the enemy, it is a tool of consciousness expansion. But like any tool, when the tool uses the user, it can wreak havoc. Most of you who read my blogs are spiritually seasoned, meaning you already know the damage that ego can cause if it fully in charge. So I will simply say that identification comes with all the potential pitfalls that the human ego does.
The thing that we, as people tend to be the most identified with are our children. When I watch parents, I am made aware of just how intense this identification really is. We see our child as if he or she were a mini-me. It is easily done because they often look so similar to us. But I have never related to this perspective despite my understanding of it. When you can literally see the way that spirit comes into being, it becomes impossible to fully identify with the child that comes through you. From this perspective, as a mother, you experience yourself as a vessel that an external source is using to creating itself. It feels like you are blessed to be a part of the process. But the child growing inside of you is not you and it is not 'yours'.
At the highest level of consciousness, all is one. And nothing is more or less you than anything else. And so your kids are you and you are your kids, just the same as the river is you and you are the river. At a different level of consciousness, the truth is much different. In order to come into physical embodiment, so as to facilitate the progression of consciousness, you borrow from what is already here. You can think of it like selecting playing cards to play in a game. Those playing cards in the game of life are things like genetic predispositions, generational belief patterns, race, culture, and people who you will come into contact with. Essentially, they are the things we “inherit” by virtue of being born. But the soul that is both choosing and playing those cards is its own being entirely. This means, your child is not you and it is not yours. It is an eternal soul and an infinite being who is only ‘playing’ the role of your child in this embodiment for the sake of expansion. He or she has borrowed your genetic code. He or she has borrowed your beliefs. And to mistake this unique being as you or yours, is to remain ignorant to this being and to love your own projection, instead of them.
So many of the ‘standard’ and ‘good’ parenting ideologies that are accepted and promoted in the world today are nothing more than identification that we justify. I have been thinking about this a lot lately since I wrote the recent blog about putting your children first. “Always put your children first” is one of these ideologies that is based on identification. The argument many make in the spiritual field is that your child is you and so putting him or her first is putting yourself first. As we discussed before, at the highest level, this is true of everything that is. And from this perspective, you must also accept that your child is you and so putting yourself first is putting your child first. But when parents say this, they are not referring to this ‘higher spiritual truth’. Instead, they are highly identified with their child in the “I, me, my, mine” sense… separate from other people. And this way of being opens the door wide for all the damage that identification can do, especially to their relationship with their child. I challenge you to look at some of the common parenting ideologies from the lens of identification.
When we identify with our children, or better said, when we are unaware of how we are identifying with our children, we never allow the being within the child to come fully into being. This is one of the main reasons I am even in business in this line of work. I am in business because the spirit within children has been so covered over with identifications and pulled off course so far by projections that as an adult, the soul now needs to embark on a process of uncovery. The false self is a composite of things you are identified with. Like onion layers, when we strip each thing we are identified with away to expose the truth of who and what we really are… the true self is revealed. All spiritual practice is a process of unveiling the true self, which is ultimately… a consciousness beyond a sense of self.
I have a career mostly because parents identify with their children. And to tell you the truth, I would happily surrender my career if it meant that parents would not wound their children by this identification. All parents do it to some degree. But when you identify with your children, you run the risk of poisoning your children with all of the issues that you struggle with. Because you see them as no different from yourself, your child does not get to develop healthy boundaries and thus learn how to have healthy relationships. And then we wonder why we have such unhealthy relationships as adults. When you identify with your children, you impose your desires on them, your aversions on them, your expectations on them, your unfulfilled dreams on them, your beliefs on them and the list goes on and on. But I hope while you were reading this tiny list that you felt the heaviness of just that burden. And the worst part is, we call this love. And society at large calls it love.
Here is an example. A mother may identify with her daughter and as such, never allow her to say ‘no’ to the things the mom wants her to do. She consistently invalidates her desires or preferences as a toddler if those desires or preferences conflict with her own. This child is reprimanded for having a sense of her own wants and needs. So, in order to maintain closeness with her mom, she learns to comply and loses touch with her desires. Pretty soon she thinks that what is correct is for her desires to be the same as her mother’s desires.
The mother is essentially teaching the child to identify with her just like she has identified with the child. The mother may feel the need for her daughter to speak her native language, or be the same religion, regardless of her own desire to do so. The mother may have always wanted to be a dancer and so, regardless of her child’s desire or natural talent, she enrolls her in dance classes. The mother may have a belief that it is important to get the best grades and go to the best schools and so, she conditions her child to excel for approval and structures her entire school career so as to get her accepted into an ivy league school. All of these decisions validate her sense of self and therefore strengthen her ego, while destroying her daughter’s sense of self. Her daughter’s spirit is not seen. It is covered over with all of her mother’s projections. The daughter becomes confused about who she is. Is she the person she has been told she is, or is she something underneath that? Looking around at her life, she can see that her life was decided for her. She does not have a job she likes. She is not in a relationship for love. She feels a nagging emptiness. And now, she is sitting across from me in my office, in the middle of an existential crisis, asking for help.
You can only experience the highest form of appreciation and love for something that you are not identified with. You can only objectively ‘see’ what is right for someone (or better put, hear them tell you what they know is best for them) if you are not identified with them. This is why psychics so often notice that the closer they are to someone, the harder it is to psychically ‘see’ them clearly. You can only see the full truth of who someone is, when you are not identified with them. In truth, you can only see the truth of who you are and are not, when you are not identified with yourself.
Dis-identification is a practice. It is a practice that begins with noticing what you are identified with. Because of my different perspective on his life, I do not see my son as MY son. He is a soul that belongs to the universe at large. He is currently exploring this embodiment that is a composite of the things he knew would serve his purpose here, including my genetics. The same genetics I decided to adopt from my own mother and father for the sake of my purpose here. I am not identified with what my son wants to do with his life or his purpose. I am not identified with his level of achievement or lack there of. I am not identified with his preferences. I can see however that I am identified with him being a good person, because I am so preoccupied with this identity within myself. I can see this in myself as I monitor his interactions with other children at the playground. I have imposed the beliefs associated with a cruelty-free way of living on him. He has been a vegetarian from the day he was born. These are not choices that he made for himself. I made those choices for him, believing they are the best choices for him. Now that I see this identification clearly, I can ask myself, are they the best choices for him? The answer may be yes or the answer may be no. Either way, I have begun to make a distinction between what is him and what is me. And this is healthy. It allows him to be a bit freer from the burden of my projection. It allows for the potential that I might catch a glimpse of who he really is and what he really wants and needs.
Provided that you do not expect your child to live so as to validate your own sense of self (and thus perceive their individuality to be a threat), there is almost nothing more beautiful than witnessing a child’s uniqueness unfold. Seeing the truth belonging to a being play out in embodied form, is like seeing a flower bloom that will never bloom again. Or tasting a spice that is so rare and sweet that you are frozen in rapture. I am sad when I think that so many parents miss out on the experience of really seeing and hearing and feeling and understanding and allowing and enabling their children. I am sad when I think that so many children miss out on the experience of being seen and heard and felt and understood and allowed and enabled by their parents. I am sad that so many adults are just very large children who were never seen and heard and felt and understood and allowed and enabled to be.
My dream is for the people of the world to see and hear and feel and understand and allow and enable each other. And this dream, is a dream which is dependent upon the way we choose to raise our children. Children are not things to be molded, but are people to be unfolded.