Friday marked our first meeting, and with A New Earth I've only been able to get 60 pages in! I've tried reading it three times! Three times! And each time I get sidetracked and stop around page 60....So, I'm super thrilled to begin this book in the way we are. One of the members is going to pick a topic and we'll read on the topic and talk about it. Very casual.
The topic chosen was Conscious Suffering and Conscious Parenting. I about floored when I walked into the meeting--I was a bit late because of my schedule, and feeling an overwhelming sadness regarding my friend in surgery.
Here is what we read:
If you have young children, give them help, guidance, and protection to the best of your ability, but even more important, give them space--space to be. They come into this world through you, but they are not 'yours.' The belief "I know what's best for you" may be true when they are very young, but the older they get, the less true it becomes. The more expectations you have of how their life should unfold, the more you are in your mind instead of being present for them. Eventually, they will make mistakes, and they will experience some form of suffering, as all humans do. In fact, they may be mistakes only from your perspective. What to you is a mistake may be exactly what your children need to do or experience. Give them as much help and guidance as you can, but realize that you may also at times have to allow them to make mistakes, especially as they begin to reach adulthood. At times, you may also have to allow them to suffer. Suffering may come to them out of the blue or it may come as the consequence of their own mistakes.
Wouldn't it be wonderful if you could spare them from all suffering? No, it wouldn't. They would not evolve as human beings and would remain shallow, identified with the external form of things. Suffering drives you deeper. The paradox is that suffering is caused by identification with form and erodes identification with form. A lot is caused by the ego, although eventually suffering destroys the ego--but not until you suffer consciously.
Formless attention is inseparable from the dimension of Being. How does it work?
As you look at, listen to, touch or help your child with this or that, you are alert, still, completely present, not wanting anything other than that moment as it is. In this way, you make room for Being. In that moment, if you are present, you are not a father or mother. You are the alertness, the stillness, the Presence that is listening, looking, touching, even speaking. You are the Being behind the doing.These paragraphs are so ripe with tangents and thoughts. I love what Mr. Tolle says about suffering--that it is not avoidable. In 12 Step rooms, I hear often, "Pain isn't option, but suffering is." And, in some cases I believe that statement. It is up to me to not suffer because of the pain that is bringing about change. Pain is the catalyst for my change, and I'm grateful for the awareness. In Mr. Tolle's language, I believe the awareness that pain brings about discomfort so I may begin to change what is causing me pain is 'Conscious Suffering.'
I appreciate so much the essence of Being, especially as it relates to parenting. I spend a lot of time with children, and hope one day to have my own (God willing!) I sincerely appreciate the reminder that in the moments I am the Being, the essence of who I am, and I let go of all else, I'm truly showing up for the children with whom I keep company.
I hope your weekend is blessed!