Tag Archives: psychology

The Fallacy of the Divine Self

The mind can be a frightful thing to behold.

On November 18, 1978, the charismatic cult leader Jim Jones successfully convinced hundreds of cult members of the People’s Temple to commit “revolutionary suicide” through the intake of a mixture containing, as one of the lethal ingredients, cyanide. Victims included more than 200 hundred children. Hence, it became known as the “Jonestown Massacre.” More information about this man-made tragedy can be found online, including audio recordings of the final moments before the suicide. However, I do want to caution you: they will be shocking.

The mind is an awe-inspiring phenomenon, beautiful yet terrible. It is the most dangerous weapon in the world. If wielded benevolently, it may lead to Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9 in E minor, the internet, or frozen yogurt. If wielded malevolently, it may lead to the Spanish Inquisition, the atomic bomb, or the Jerry Springer Show.

A mind which can turn evil and cause catastrophes is an extremity, but the core problem is the difference between what I call “the higher self” and “the thinking mind.” The thinking mind might also be called “the ego”, however there are so many conceptions and definitions, that this would be misleading. The higher self has spiritual connotations, which relate to the ideas I discuss in other writing, be it blog posts or books.

The thinking mind is a unity of self, or rather an experience of a consistent perspective of perceptions and concepts related to a sense of self and identity, which involves believing in the narratives told about this self.

The mind is what it believes it is, what it thinks itself to be. It is like an impostor, claiming to be the creator of its own existence and narrative, even if those narratives (science may have proven this) are derived from other people’s narratives about the applicable person.

The thinking mind:

  • Acts like a “god” within, a divine “I”, originator of its own unique self and ideas;
  • Takes credit for ideas which come from beyond the thinking mind, like a boss who writes his name under the work of an employee;
  • Manipulates and deceives for gain like a con artist;
  • Is self-righteous and charismatic, like the leader of a cult;
  • Forcibly supresses opposition and brutally resists change like a narcissistic dictator.

The thinking mind, however, fails miserably, like a clown with Alzheimer, in perfectly performing its tricks. It suffers from biases, is fooled by optical illusions, falls pray to stereotyped and irrational thinking, follows flawed heuristics, has a low capacity short term memory, and an unreliable long term memory storage and retrieval system which is susceptible to suggestions.

Its powers are mainly derived by conviction and belief: as long as the higher self believes the (self-)narratives and identifies with the constructs of the thinking mind, it grows, like a totalitarian state with propaganda.

Unfortunate things may happen when beliefs are taken too far in the direction of glorification of the individual self, for instance when the spiritual, pantheistic idea of “everything is identical with divinity” leads the self to identify itself as a god, mixing intuitive spiritual experiences with individuality, a sense of self, and other dualistic ideas. That’s when the ego, the thinking mind, takes over as divine soevereign. That might even be the origin of evil, although this would be a very bold statement.

The higher self is indeed majestic, however, it is not a self in the sense of an individual entity with a clearly defined identity. It is not a godly figure, not the “divine I,” but rather something beyond the world of individual forms of manifested existence, the great indescribable mystery, or the void of emptiness in which everything dissolves, but from which everything also emerges, in endless possibilities of limitless conceptions, with infinite characteristics.

If you allow yourself to be sucked into that black hole of apparent silence, inertia and nonexistence, showing the willingness to sacrifice your noisy, pretentious souvereign called the thinking mind, including everything it is identified with, you will be struck with horror upon disintegration, after which you will reemerge integrated with a smile on your face, as you have then looked into the eyes of truth, the higher reality of your higher self.

Rather than being lured into a trap set by your thinking mind, allowing yourself to be convinced to consume the cyanide of ignorance, you will awaken with a clear awareness, steering clear of the manipulated realities and conceptions of the thinking mind, with absolute confidence.

Image: The Death of Caesar, by Jean-Léon Gérôme [Public domain]

Ignorance is Bliss, acknowledging it wisdom

All I know is that I know nothing.

Socrates has supposedly said something along those lines. In Ancient Greek: Ἓν οἶδα ὅτι οὐδὲν οἶδα.

We live in an age of strong beliefs, values, and judgments, fiercely fought over on battlefields real and digital.

Social media are engineered to transform healthy communication into addictive connection and appraisal seeking; and rational into irrational, highly emotional decision making. Even to the extent that it influences voting outcomes.

Beauty standards taken to extremes, with digital retouching creating demigods and goddesses setting unobtainable goals for unfortunate souls who seek to resemble them.

Material wealth and the prestige of fake selves and fake lives are forming the foundations of a new religion, lacking, however, meaning and purpose, damaging the environment, and increasing the gap between the rich and poor.

The increasing disconnectedness of digital connectivity and the meaninglessness of many 21st century endeavours create a void that is filled by fake news, fake beliefs, unfounded claims, and fancy cults that pretend to aid humanity but in fact hide a network for sexual abuse and exploitation.

Seemingly religious people dressing like religious people, without the heart of  virtuous people, promising those who do follow them extrinsic rewards before or after death, but preaching hell and damnation for those skeptical minds who seek the intrinsic reward of pure truth and virtue by becoming virtuous for the sake of becoming virtuous.

The void of meaninglessness is also filled with the claims of spiritual people who pretend to be “scientific”, without really understanding science.

And even scientists seeking prestige or needing funding commit intellectual sins by publishing “fake” science funded by stakeholders, or science without meeting proper methodological standards.

The lonely voice voicing rare truths cries out but is overwhelmed and silenced by the majority of voices who seek only the confirmation of beliefs they are invested in too much.

We are deafened by the shouts and noises of irrational manifestations, the suppressing totalitarian regime of the fake and judgmental, and the pretensions of ignorance.

Only in the silence of the acknowledgment of ignorance, the knowledge of not knowing or pretending to know anything, do we find the clarity of consciousness to answer the question: what do we truly know? For although we may well be inclined to believe many things – and to some extent rightfully so – we are ignorant of many, if not all things predicating by truthfulness and reality.

Socrates might have known a thing or two, but never claimed to know what he did not actually know. He challenged people with fixed beliefs who claimed to know what they did not know. And he was, if we may believe Plato’s narrative, poisoned for it.

Descartes came to cogito, ergo sum. Only knowing that he existed through his thinking, starting from an almost nihilistic standpoint of not knowing anything.

We may learn many things, but shouldn’t we be skeptical, be humble about what we truly know?

The world is full of stakeholders that want us to belief something, because they make money out of it, because it increases their status, or because it makes them feel more elevated as a social, religious, or spiritual idol.

Always return to the void, and keep asking yourself the question: what can I truly know, and how does it – whatever it is – truly benefit me and others?

Painting: François-Xavier Fabre – Museum of Art and History, Geneva

We Know, Yet, We Resist

Man loses his job, then, feeling quite the loser, instead becomes a boozer.

Woman escapes abusive relationship, then falls prey to exactly the same type of misogynistic, masochistic monster.

Our true selves know. They have always known. They are knocking on our doors, yet we do not open, as if they were pertinacious Yehova’s Witnesses or relentless debt collectors.

We dread the ill news they bring, the news of hope and change, of purpose, the real news we need to hear.

Since we are naturally inclined to revolt against needs which cause such dismay and unrest, we are tempted to follow wants instead of needs.

The list of wants may seem endless: consumer goods, drugs, alcohol, sex, enchanting sights, squishies, seductive smells, self-serving ideas, intellectual achievements, Girl Scouts Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookies, comforts, repetition, instincts, emotions, depression, patterns, and familiar, but horrific types of (abusive) partners.

When good news – and I do not mean Yehova’s Witnesses here – knocks gently on our doors, we often crawl back under the safety of our blanket of familiarity.

If it bangs on the door and adversity strikes, we dig deep into the seemingly rich soil of those wants, which develop into extremities, monstrosities of addiction and derealization, anything that can numb the pain.

Tragically, even at the bottom, when we realize that none of the tempest’s promises have come true, we are often unwilling to exchange wants for needs, and grow bitter in contempt or denial.

And the more we deny, eventually, the louder our true selves will come knocking at the door. It is us who have to find the courage and strength of will to open it, for it will never open by itself. And once the door is opened, something majestic happens, that humbles us and makes us wish we could take back all our wrongs. Why didn’t we choose needs rather than wants, why didn’t we submit to purpose and fulfillment rather than to denial and escapism?

Painting: Vladimir Makovsky

The Amorphous Ocean: From the Dynamics of the Manifested World to the Unmanifested Nature of Higher Reality

Water.

H2O.

Water is the key to life, it covers most of the Earth’s surface, it is one of the main ingredients for the recipe of our body, and we need to drink plenty of it in order to survive. It is used in spiritual rituals, cools us comfortably during hot summers, and also dampens the spirits of forlorn creatures in autumn, when it pours down relentlessly for days on end.

It can also be a destructive force, for instance when a massive tsunami wave crashes down onto a hapless coastal settlement, ruining the forsaken coast dwellers.

Water can be a perfect ice cube, all it’s power and virility seemingly contained.

When evaporated, it becomes like a ghost, unseen yet present, transforming into raindrops or even snowflakes if conditions allow it.

Such is the versatility of the phenomenon called water, and what does that tell us, at least as an analogy? Much, but let’s focus on the different states.

The ice cube. Frozen water. On first impression flawless and motionless. In reality more complex than that, but for the sake of my argument, let’s assume it is in a perfect state of order. Fascinating as it might be, it is also rather lifeless. Imagine being turned into a statue, like in a fairy tale, frozen in a certain state, never able to get out of it. Or, if you still want to allow for some mobility, being stuck in a day, a day that keeps repeating itself in exactly the same order and manner in an endless cycle. Both the static and cyclic state seem rather miserable, right? Let that be the extreme of perfect order.

Now let’s zoom in on the tsunami again. A huge wave creating havoc. Death, destruction, despair. Only miracles of a spiritual nature, or marvels of a scientific origin, could heal what was hurt, and restore what was lost. Some will be traumatized for life, others will be financially ruined. Such is the cost of chaos, the other extreme.

Neither extreme seems desirable. Neither the state of order nor the state of chaos can sustain life. And yet both are necessary. The magic happens at a very small area in the middle, a kind of “golden zone”, where chaos provides the degrees of freedom, and order helps maintain some kind of continuity, an equilibrium. Not a static equilibrium, but one that is fed by chaos, adapts, grows, and even learns. This is where complexity occurs, where all that makes existence beautiful and lively emerges, and where intelligence comes into existence.

Chaos is like total freedom, randomness, meaninglessness, unpredictability, and instability. It is movement without purpose, without direction.

Order is the opposite: it is control, rigidity, predictability, and stability. It is either static or cyclic (though the latter seems more apparent in this universe, which seems to be always in motion).

Complexity is the moving equilibrium between those two extremes, a delicate balance where order maintains form, but chaos allows it to grow more complex and better adapt to the conditions of its context of existence. Going to either of these extremes will lead to either stagnation and maladaptation (too much order) or decay and annihilation (chaos).

These ideas of order, chaos, and complexity, if you ask me, can be used, to describe things that happen in the universe, from the smaller scales of particles (like in thermodynamics) to the larger scales of galaxy formation. They can be used to describe the dynamics of the human mind, and those of human society. Something I am trying to do in my book, which is still in progress.

If the conditions of the early universe would have been too random, or rather too rigid, galaxies, and life as we know it, would probably never have evolved.

These concepts of order, chaos and complexity seem to be very useful in describing what I see and experience, what I rationalize about, whatever their scientific worth may be.

However, what does all of this tell us about the more spiritual side of existence, on which I have been writing stubbornly for the last few years?

Let’s consider the ocean: vast, seemingly endless, borderless, shapeless, humbling, inspiring, majestic, and remorseless. If you behold her like a poet would, not a scientist, she takes no definite shape, but incessantly flows and brings forth waves. She consists of countless individual drops, yet those drops are part of the whole and have sacrificed their stricter individuality, they are “one”. Everything that could be formed out of the ocean’s water, either as a whole or as a part of her, is in a way already there, like ice cubes, snow flakes, or even ice sculptures. However, none of those forms are manifested, they remain latent yet are always potentially there.

When water evaporates from the ocean, cooling down and eventually transforming into hailstones, these hailstones are like “manifested order”. Like Erwin Schrödinger’s proverbial “cat”, from the Quantum Mechanics thought experiment, which seems to be in two conflicting states: alive and dead, suddenly coming alive as a manifested creature, as in the collapse of a quantum wave describing the possible states of existence.

The ocean, the unmanifested, called Brahman in Hindu philosophy – the Absolute, the pure and formless ground of being from which creation and manifestation arise – is NOT chaos, or change. It is absolute flow, but as it is formless, it is not change. Change and chaos (the extreme version of change) only occur when there is order, when something has already been manifested, when something has arisen out of nothingness. So when the tsunami wave crashes down onto the coastal settlement, it causes chaos because the coast and the settlement were already there in the first place.

In the unmanifested ocean which I will now call the “higher reality”, and to which I have referred many times in earlier writings, all those things that can be described using the concepts of chaos, order, and complexity also exist, but not as a manifested form, as they are always in motion, and always “whole”, divided yet one. As it seems impossible to fully comprehend, let alone clearly describe, what this vast ocean of the unmanifested actually is, we mortal manifestations of that higher reality might refer to it in various abstract or comforting terms, and from a religious perspective that could be what is meant by “God”.

Like the drops in the ocean, at the deepest level, we are part of this higher reality, and yet we experience existence as something that is manifested in a certain mold we refer to as the physical universe. We experience a distinct self, related to a distinct body, in a world full of other distinct forms and other distinct, conscious beings, behaving as if separated, following sets of physical rules which may be uncovered through the various sciences, within a framework of space and time which, at least at the macroscopic level, to the conscious mind, seems to unfold as a one way deterministic trip from past to future; and even science, probing this manifested universe only, has a thing or two to teach about this seemingly unidirectional movement of time and space – especially at the smallest scales, where past and future states, or rather even time itself, seem nonexistent.

Again, order must be manifested in order for chaos to emerge, and growth (complexity) arises due to the interplay of those two extremes, at a very specific, optimal intersection. Complexity, therefore, must seem nonexistent too in the formless ocean that is unmanifested higher reality, right? It is like everything you will ever be, and everything you ever can be, already exists. What is the point of growth? In manifested reality, you might want to find and embrace the ocean, which you had forgotten when you embraced (or were determined to embrace) mortal life. Then the whole journey toward spiritual enlightenment would just be an uncovering of what was lost, and finally overcoming that amnesia fully, forever forsaking the distinct self that had forgotten its true origins.

It is my belief, therefore, that through life in the manifested world, something is gained, a way of perceiving the unmanifested that would otherwise have been impossible. And I am confident that we are each on our own personal quest to find our own purpose in this bewildering enrichment of consciousness, to find our own true voice in the all-encompassing, time and space-independent heavenly choir of meaningful experience, a unique unity which may only be achieved by overcoming all our shortcomings, and our egocentric self, as those lead to the state of duality which traps us in the illusion of conflicting manifestations, in its most extreme form a kind of hell of separateness and isolation.

So embark on this journey, defy the odds, embrace the ocean fully, and, once discovering your true sound, add your own fabulous voice to the orchestra of spiritual existence.

Image: Albert Bierstadt – The Shore of the Turquoise Sea

Satisfaction or Sacrifice for the Sake of Salvation

Attachment, attraction, affiliation, aversion.

Four A’s.

Four horrible, but omnipresent A’s.

We are attracted to things, possessions, achievements, pleasures, people, ideals, values, concepts, and anything between heaven and earth that rewards us temporarily with neurological highs.

At the same time we feel aversion towards things that hinder satisfaction, or that put as in any kind of disadvantage, even suffering.

When we attain certain things, and they become valuable, like luxury goods, titles, money, a partner and, especially, our own self, our ego, we feel affiliation with them – identify with them – and they become part of who we are, of the who we present to the world, and the who we enjoy looking at in the mirror. We grow attached to those shiny rubies of experience.

The thing is, none of it is durable, none of it lasts, so we keep on looking for reinforcements or replacements. It does NOT work. We can fool ourselves, and fool others, but deep inside, our TRUE SELF knows it is just a load of utter codswallop.

Once we embrace and start feeding our true self, we will become conflicted. We might get stressed, frustrated, scared, or even angry. The mind does not like such conflict, but it is for the best, we have to overcome and persevere.

I have talked about the true self before. Let’s introduce the concept of sacrifice. In some cultures it is commonplace to perform ritual sacrifice. Such ceremonies might be aimed at feeding the poor and creating greater social awareness, but sacrifice goes much deeper than that.

In certain religious traditions (especially the Abrahamic ones) it is narrated that certain people who were searching God, were asked to sacrifice the lives of their spouse or children. Now, most would (hopefully) not agree with actually killing family members to appease God, but it is paramount to try to appreciate and acknowledge the significance of the willingness to “give up everything.”

What matters, it seems to me, in such extreme cases, is the coming to a realization that nothing in this world should be hold so dearly as to never wanting to part with it under any circumstance. It should be clearly stated, however, that I do not intend for this to mean “to not hold anything dearly”, or to actually give those things up. On the contrary, I encourage holding dearly to what matters, to people who matter, in life, however, not to the extent of sacrificing one’s true self. The crucial lesson here is to let go of all identification with anything else than the true self. One can still love, care, and even achieve – as a matter of fact, when embracing the true self primarily, such love can become even more profound! – but one is no longer bound by them to the realm of the finite and manifested, the universe of unavoidable tragedy. It will transform the self from a self of wants into a self of needs, and from a self of needs into a self of being. A self that simply is, without any need of becoming anything else than itself.

Sacrifices do not need to be drastic and dramatic, like in the case of hermit monks or the people told about in religious traditions. Small sacrifices are small steps, but small steps can lead to bigger ones, and even the change in awareness, and the willingness to change associated with these small steps, can bring about a whole chain reaction in the self.

The sacrifices made are not just for the sake of those who might benefit from them, even more so they are for the sake of our own betterment, for the salvation of our true self. And the salvation of our true self is the best gift we can provide our loved ones with, a beautiful self is worth more than the world’s most expensive jewels.

Photography by Peter van Delft

Why Acceptance is a superpower

Beauty hides around every corner of existence, if we but only use our true eyes to see it

We mortals seem to be doomed to live our lives as slaves, ruled by the ruthless slaver called emotional response, a relentless beast that gets a firmer grip on our well-being the more painful experiences are added to our experience.


Are we destined to suffer the life of slaves, the life of agony?
Are we programmed to get angry every time we hit heavy traffic or encounter a case of severe weather when it is least opportune to us, even though part of us knows it is pointless?

If you read about the science of the brain and free will, you might come to such a mortifying conclusion.

That, however, does not take into account the superpower of acceptance.Generations of philosophers and countless mystic traditions have inspired us to find that power, but most of us take no heed. I was no different. Always got frustrated, depressed or scared when life lashed out with its whip of confrontation.
I finally figured out that there are only two choices: be a puppet of pain, or a superhero; be enslaved, or free.


Whatever we resist, becomes a blockade, which drains us of energy, spirit and creativity, and eventually can lead to chaos: a disruption of the system in the form of psychological illness and misbehavior. We either shut down in depression, explode into fury, or tremble out of fear.


Acceptance is the only way to go, and in intercourse with other beings, but even in relation to the whole of existence – which is all interconnected – forgiveness is a power not to be reckoned with.
The MORE you can accept AND forgive, the more FREEDOM you will attain! You can abide in traffic like a wise master, and sit out a violent storm like an enlightened being, by virtue of the elegant power of acceptance.

Emotions are intentions, directions, masters of their own, but struggling in endless conflict with their irrational opposites and extremes, and with the impossibility of their realisation.
Freedom lies not in want or will, it lies in an absence of want, the blissful void of acceptance. 

Acceptance of yourself and of small setbacks leads to a small state of flow, like when playing tennis. Acceptance of all the exists and happens, even the most horrific truths and immeasurable agony, is the key to ultimate freedom, the path to be truly human, superhuman.

Conquering the final frontier of existential bondage, the serfdom that binds us to our experiential overlords, is the only true freedom that can be acquired in mankind’s tragic existence.

The question is, do you want to serve, or rule? Use your superpower or be subdued by it?The choice, albeit a hard one, is yours to make.

Photography by Peter van Delft

Truth and the Ruthlessness of her Impostors

Existence is full of lies.

People lie all the time, they lie socially, professionally, or even in the name of a religion.

 

Your eyes (in reality it concerns the parts of your brain dealing with vision) lie, when pretending to represent a consistent visual reality, which can easily be disproved through experiments with optical illusions.

 

The memory of a crime suspect lies, when interrogators use too “convincing” techniques to force a confession.

 

Similarly, the brain of a psychiatric patient lies, when remembering child abuse that did not actually take place, but was suggested with ample psychological conviction and influence by a therapist.

 

Even a photon, one of the many sent on a light-speed journey from the Sun to Earth, lies, if it claims to be a particle, rather than a wave, or the other way around. At least it is the instrument causing the interference in the quantum state, that lies, or the brain of the person operating it. I am far from well-versed in the intricacies of physics, let alone astrophysics, yet these ideas seem significant to me in this context.

 

Big, manifest things like trees lie, while actually being collections of cells, which are actually organised molecules, which are actually atoms – with unimaginably large voids of seeming nothingness separating them – which are actually protons, neutrons and electrons, which are actually quarks (as “strange” and “charming” they may portray themselves), which are things we can hardly visualize at all in our imagination.

 

The whole universe lies, pretending to be rich and full, hundreds of billions of galaxies each oozing with the light and life of hundreds of billions of stars – and presumed planets, while actually expanding toward a state of emptiness so vast it can never be bridged.

 

Even science, though it may humble us enough to sacrifice other lies, may lead to its own lies, if its adherents claim to have come close to an understanding of the deepest layers of truth, while it may never be proven, through traditional science, how the reality we all share and call the universe, is rooted into the more definite reality which must lie beyond, and which we may never fully understand. Who is to say we can ever escape the biases ingrained in our very being, the fact that we were already born into a certain predetermination toward order, the laws and inclinations that made life possible, and that somehow emerged out of the soup of chaos that was the early universe. There is no range of parallel universes available to us – with current abilities and understanding – to do a control experiment, by means of which we could see if our perceived state of our own universe could be generated from random and varying conditions at conception.

 

All that is manifest and to which we attach ourselves is a mere lie if we take it for granted and fail to see the mystery and uncertainty behind “existence”, the majesty of the unknown, the chaos that is actually the very origin of order.

Yet, most self-proclaimed truths are impostors who do an awfully convincing job of letting us believe they are our salvation, rather than our doom.

 

The unknown, the pit of nothingness, which many of us fear, is the true source of existence, the Higher Reality where there are no restraints, limits, boundaries, discriminations, flaws, definites, absolutes, paradoxes, irrationalities, vanities, concepts, percepts, or any forms that might show the faintest trace of persistence.

 

That is the One Truth, the very source of wonders we need to embrace, a fearsome, yet immeasurably magnificent ocean, unbound by the ruthless masters of space and time, where we, as individual drops, loose all the ignorance of individuality and ego, but acquire the kind of freedom that does not exist in ordinary reality.

 

Only in true surrender, true acceptance, true sacrifice, and true humility, can this truth be obtained, if it can ever be obtained to its fullest. Plunging into the deep can be frightening, having to drown first and loose everything, but it will be ever so rewarding, once we are reborn and refurnished as a more enlightened being.

Words of Wisdom for 2018

Words of Wisdom for 2018

Happy New Year and all the love and blessings you need!

I usually don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions (Actually, I still don’t), and casual words of wisdom related to Christmas, New Year’s Eve or any other occasion typically strike me as a bit naïve.

Change comes when it has to, when the person is ready. But even if we are not ready, some inspiration may be taken to heart, only to be used at a later time.

Here are some “words of wisdom” which are based on my own experience, some day they may be of use to those who are able to relate.

 

The key to win the hearts of others is to find your inner purity and calmness, and allow others to share in that still water, absorbing all imperfections and allowing them to be themselves.

 

The solution to solve conflicts is to give up the need for “justice”, as that is just an ego thing, but to replace it with understanding and acceptance, without sacrificing or changing yourself into an expectation of others.

 

Sometimes suffering due to mistakes in life is unavoidable, because spiritual growth depends on the progression of insight, and if you are not ready for the next step upwards, you need to fall downwards first.

 

Using medicine or therapy to solve Issues might help you daily life get on track, but often these problems have an important story to tell, and the lessons learned from these stories may inspire the great things that we often admire or envy in others.

 

 

Let 2018 be the year of purity, the year in which we listen to the stories that our challenges and tragedies are trying to tell us!

About the picture: Caspar David Friedrich – Der Wanderer über dem Nebelmeer (Wikimedia Commons)

The Power of Perceptive Parenting

Tantrums and parental conundrums.

Raising kids is one of the most challenging “professions”. Being a parent is a “job” that lasts for years or even a lifetime, and you cannot – reasonably – quit or ask for better terms and benefits.

 

Before they go to school, those fascinating creatures under your charge will learn mostly in the environment sustained by their parents, but as soon as school comes into the picture, this shaping and modelling environment expands, and other rolemodels will start setting the examples. And don’t forget that they have their very own temperaments, finetuned to their own needs, not yours.

 

Yes, it can be rewarding at times, when they show their affection or proudly demonstrate the new skills they’ve acquired. But often you might feel powerless and tired.

 

So if we feel overpowered and exhausted, what is the biggest Issue? Perception. I will explain later.

 

As a parent, I have learned about, and tried to use, authoritative and permissive styles, and a mixture thereof.

Many people have been giving advice, often contradicting that of others. I did not even try popular books, that follow trends every few years. It just doesn’t add up for me.

 

But I started to pay attention to what was actually going on when I felt like a bad parent. I noticed that if I was tired, feeling out of control, or otherwise struggling with myself, my kids were also more restless, naughty and moody.

 

The first thing I tried to change was aligning my behavior with my words. So instead of just asking or commanding them things to do, I would also make myself a rolemodel, acting out what I said. That helped to some extent, but I still felt discord and frustration.

 

Then I went a little deeper, trying to open myself to the kinds of spiritual ideas I have been playing with for the last few years. Then it became evident to me that the kids connected to whatever state of consciousness I was in.

If I felt harmony, positivity and control, they would be easier to manage too. If I slid into a state of “duality” and my thinking mind would pull me into negative spirals of thoughts, the resulting disfunctional emotional chaos would be picked up by my kids and they would express the same kind of chaos in a different way. They would either be angry, naughty, unmotivated or they would just complain all the time. They would seek attention, any type of attention, even negative.

 

But, the key was not just the attention, because that would not lift them up to a more balanced state of mind. The key was the kind of attention that would help them connect to MY unity, rather than MY duality.

 

So, how to do this?

First you need to create unity in yourself (please refer to earlier posts about [non-]duality and living in the present) and observe and accept everything, resulting in freedom and peace of mind. You will notice that it gives you a perception of control. Not full control, that’s fear, but the kind of control a surfer has over his surfboard while mastering the big waves of the sea. Then, PERCEIVE.

Perceive the duality in your child. Understand it, act it out and respond to it, without using your own sense of unity. Then, once that ship is sailing, wait patiently for your child to slowly, but surely, connect to you. Invite them softly, absorb their expressions of disruptive emotions and duality without judging, without being triggered into an emotional state too – apart from kindness.

You can often cancel disruptive emotions by working with opposite states, like waves with opposite forms that cancel each other out, but eventually silent and peaceful acceptence will be the state of mind that the are invited into, so they can fully connect to unity.

I know this sounds easier than it actually is, and a little abstract, but it is something you can experiment with, if you already have a little bit of a background in spiritual ideas related to non-duality.

 

And this works in any type of relationship, not just the relationship with your kids.

Perceive, be, accept, connect.

The Paradoxical Need for Suffering

To be honest, I’m horrified by suffering.

My own sufferings, though perhaps modest in comparison to those of others, mostly left me furious, and full of doubt and disappointment. But one thing I know for sure now – as sure as a man can be in a subjective universe – is that I learned something in every single troublesome period of my life, a necessity of experience and insight that I would never have been able to acquire had I not suffered the way I did.

 

I am not going to preach here – let’s leave out religious opinions that so commonly ignite fires of disagreement or even are a cause for contempt – just going to share my experience and insights. I have struggled with cancer and with loads of personal and family drama, but I do not regret having experienced those things. What I DO regret, is that I was unable to accept everything the way it was, that I resisted, fought, and over-analyzed everything. But even that has, on the long run, helped me gain knowledge and tools that are very useful now.

 

But enough about me, let’s try to see it from a different perspective. Imagine you have a child that is suffering from cancer. Mayhaps a daughter, a charming little five-year-old daughter. She still has a long, beautiful life ahead of her, many friends to make, smiles to show and tears to shed. But all of that will be taken away, because that horrible sickness is devouring her every molecule of hope and livelihood. To make things worse, the monster that’s eating her up also makes her suffer, her every waking breath one of agonizing pain.

 

Now here comes the clue. There is a treatment. It is a proven treatment, will leave her fully cured and with no risk involved, because the doctors know what they’re doing, and they are one hundred percent dedicated to your lovely little girl. There is only one problem: it is very painful. It will make her scream, she will have nightmares and at night she will wake up and curse you and the doctors for doing that to her. But it is the only way, and once that short, but horrible treatment is over, she will be healthy, strong, and, as a side-effect, she will also forget what she went through, a no-trauma guarantee.

 

Suffering she will, even without the treatment. But without the treatment, there is no hope. With the treatment, she will go through a hell of pain and fear, but after that it will be like she’s reborn.

The question is: what would you choose as a parent?

Short, severe, suffering, with the prospect and certainty of having a perfectly healthy happy daughter afterwards?

Or call off the treatment, but let her slowly die a death that leaves her without any hope of betterment, of happiness, of life?

If she resists the treatment, she will suffer longer, but eventually, she will cure. The only thing needed is for you to sign the parental consent form, for she is underage.

What would you do?

 

Some spiritual truths, whether we believe in them or not, are very counter-intuitive, very hard to swallow, even disgusting in our common sense of morality. But I believe, in the greater perspective of the higher realm of reality, where there are no absolute differences, where there exists no absolute suffering, and where there are no absolute time or space, it all makes sense. And suffering makes sense too, but only if we submit, accept and reach a higher plain of insight, where the little events of daily material life, that haunt us all the time, seem insignificantly small and meaningless.

 

I have learned personally that suffering made me wiser, and also happier. It left me with scars, but the scars healed and eventually made me a more multi-dimensional person. Whenever I was able to submit, and let go, the suffering was short and less painful, but each time I got upset and resisted, it left me cursing and crying in agony and self-pity. And the times when I SHOULD have received some trials, and they did not appear, I became a lesser me, with some of my resolve and wisdom dissolved, and it created problems I could have avoided otherwise.

 

For me, and maybe also for you, suffering is actually beneficial, it is the treatment that, while enduring it, might seem like unfair and horrible, but which, once you submit to it and let it heal you, will make you a better you, a stronger you!

 

Of course that does not mean that you should seek out suffering, and especially not affect others with it. The beneficial type of suffering is the one that comes uninvited, throught the agency of life events that all play a roll in the greater script, the drama script of the omniverse of the higher reality.