Possible ways to apply the Eckhart teachings to children and teens
TEEN SUICIDE TALK, (PoN p. 67) Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle p. 67
Teenage suicidal talk, or "I should never have been born!" talk. When a teen says things like this, it seems to me we as parents might have allowed them to unconsciously absorb from us the belief that life is a burden or a struggle. We are exuding that belief, many of us. I got this aha moment while reading page 67 in the Power of Now where Eckhart says,
"The Joy of Being: To alert you that you have allowed yourself to be taken over by psychological time, you can use a simple criterion. Ask yourself: Is there joy, ease, and lightness in what I am doing? If there isn't, then time is covering up the present moment, and life is perceived as a burden or a struggle."Ironically, both Mein Kampf, the autobiography of Adolph Hitler and the word jihad mean "my struggle". Cosmic ego struggles that kill millions along the way...
The thing to do, seems to me, would be to exude joie d'vive (Joy of life) to our kids, not the harmful "life is a burden/struggle" belief. Just changing our own mindset on this matter is like flipping a big switch. The kids immediately start to absorb our own new consciousness. Eckhart explains how this switch-flipping in our own minds is more than half the battle in the Oprah.com Chapter 2 webcast when a woman calls in asking about her son picking up on her "things and shopping make us happy" mindset. He told her she had already completed the greatest part of the solution -- noticing her own imprisoned consciousness and freeing it. The old her was a shopaholic, not the new her. So in the same way, the old parent was a negative or pessimistic "long-suffering" person, but now just by seeing this trickle down effect on our child's poor unsuspecting state-of-mind, we have flipped a switch of realization and are exuding the joy of life.
WHY WE ENJOY BABIES & TOTS, Findhorn DVD 1. Eckhart Tolle on Why we enjoy our pets so much
In Eckhart Tolle's first 90-min. Findhorn talk (May 2004) about half-way thru, he explains our attraction to pets. We like them because while looking at them, holding them, we are one with the Formless-All without any roles or egos interfering as in human relationships. Dogs don't relate to our false-self, to our ego, to their idea of us, dogs (and cats, or any pet we love to be with) don't project anything onto us. I saw a bumper-sticker at the Vet's office once that read, "Lord help me to be the person my dog thinks I am." We don't relate to their ego because they don't have one! It's a relief to be able to relate directly to Being, and so with pets we get a glimpse of the ultimate. Thinking about that I remembered my Dad, a man of animals, saying he wanted a dog or cat or something because he wanted "something to watch." He was semi-retired at the time, not living on a farm as he had growing up, no horses anymore, all our pets were gone, and Dad was living in town sitting in his chair every day with "nothing to watch, nothing to hold." It was a need he had to be around the animal kingdom. Then a great-grandchild was born in the family and needed daily babysitting. Suddenly Dad had something to play with, "watch" and hold. He did his share of the "dirty work" that goes with babies, too. Dad and Mom took daily care of Christopher for two and a half years.
My sister, mother of three, used to say as she snuggled a baby or toddler how great kids were "before they can talk back." The minute children learn to talk back with us (and to us!), egos are at work, bumping against each other, relating to each other. No longer can a little one be like a pet and give us a glimpse, help us briefly experience the Formless realm with our own ego stripped away and just being one with the kid. I believe this may be one reason we feel the pull to have children in the first place. I have always wondered why I wanted each of my three kids. The first one was because I wanted my own child, I had been co-raising three step-children for 10 years by that time, and thought maybe it would be cool to have my own child. But then the other two daughters I had four and eight years later, why did I want to have them? Was it just the survival of the species instinct? I have a two year old (my youngest) as of this writing (and it's Mother's Day 2008 right now, coincidentally) and I just don't "feel" those survivalism urges, don't feel any satisfaction from knowing my genes will survive into the future. No, but there is something else I DO feel and have felt it with all my kiddos and step-children, nieces, nephews. It's that enjoyment of watching them, as Dad called it, and holding them, relating to them in the Now. Maybe it goes deeper than with pets, because they are human, but I don't know. There is that bliss you get when you hold a little one on your lap and press your cheek next to his/hers, or watch them play beside you as you work, their little face suddenly lighting up when they show you something and you both exclaim together. No worry about what their ego or your ego thinks of the situation, no thinking at all during that moment. I think pets and kids (who have undeveloped or non-existent egos) are similar.
I read once that a child thinks s/he and the mother are the same human being until they are about three years old when the sense of "I-ness" kicks in for the first time. Babies and toddlers have very undeveloped egos. The "terrible twos" are called terrible because that's when they start the separation of identity from mother process that becomes final at age 3. Joseph Campbell, the great mythologist, who travelled the globe recording myths of countless ethnic groups, called the image of a mother with a child on her hip participation mystique. The mother and child participate in the same "beingness", the same I AM-ness. This is not always conscious of course, since us mothers are entrapped by ego like the rest of humanity. We get only glimpses, those moments of stillness when no ego intrudes into the relationship. Having a kid on your hip, in your arms, looking up at you with an open face, triggers such blissful Now moments. Both fathers and mothers, siblings, even aunts and grandfathers get these glimpses of the Formless when they relate directly to an infant or child.
Pets and babies are therapeutic. I guess the challenge it to be able to relate to your child's real self with your own real self even after the kid learns to "talk back." Otherwise, go get the family pet and have some cuddle time...er, I mean, bliss Now time...!
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