The Is-ness of Parents

In the Hindu tradition, there are four stages of life, the final one after being a householder/parent is to become a Wandering Beggar, a different kind of scaling down than we do here in the West.  Basically, it just means you have "the duty to prepare [your] spirit for the stage in which spirit will be all [you have]."

In the Hindu tradition, there are four stages of life, the final one after being a householder/parent is to become a Wandering Beggar, a different kind of scaling down than we do here in the West.  Basically, it just means you have "the duty to prepare [your] spirit for the stage in which spirit will be all [you have]."

I was reminded the other day about this idea of the Holy Perfection of all things, a concept I don't really like that much as it seems a little flaky, spiritually gratuitous, and frankly, unnecessary.  There is good and there is bad in the world.  No need to be trying to squint our eyes a certain way to see the essential "good" underneath someone's evil behavior.  What is the purpose?  Aren't we letting ourselves off the hook of confronting the wrong-doer by trying to see their essential qualities?  Who cares about their essential qualities when they need to be make aware of their wrong-doings?

This topic came up in the context of a conversation about raising a family.  Parents who try to improve their children without doing any inner work on themselves are "bad", I said, in the sense that they're imposing their ego delusions on someone else without stopping to examine them.  So when the kid grows up, they not only have to deal with their own egoic delusions, they have to wade through the ones imposed on them by their parents.  Basically the parent is asking the child to do their own inner work for them.  They're saying, "Here, I don't want to examine my motives or sift through all this psychic material I've inherited.  You do it."  The kid has to separate all the layers in therapy.  I mean, this happens all the time, but for a parent to still hang on to their ego-structure long after the child has left the house?  To never have examined their own lens?  Basically to go through life never having any big existential crisis about your own ego story?  Isn't that bad parenting? 

What I tell parents who want to help their kids is, "The best gift you can give your child is to do your own inner work."  You're definitely going to start out thinking you have all the answers, which is natural, but when you realize your lense on the world is only one of several, and there are other valid points of view out there, you start incorporating them and you get a little humbler and a little humbler until you realize, like the Fool in the tarot card journey, you're back at the beginning of your journey.  What you "knew" throughout your life was your own ego story and when you transcend that a bit, you start doing some digging to see what else you've been missing.  I attend Enneagram workshops, and the median age of the attendees has to be around 45-50, that age when people start seeing a bigger picture beyond their limited worldview that they parented out of. 

The answer given to me in this conversation this past week was no one HAS to do inner work.  It's optional.  There is still an inherent goodness in that parent who constantly feels the need to impose their egoic lens on your worldview.  Goodness, she said, in the sense of the the Type One's holy idea- that of Holy Perfection, not "goodness" in our egoic way of judging one thing against a standard of an ideal.  While we see stubbornness and self-importance and self-delusion, an enlightened person sees someone who is "inherently and implicitly perfect, that [they] are just right as [they] are, that [they] do not need anything added to [them] or subtracted from [them]", says Sandra Maitri.  She goes on.  "From this angle we see that [they] do not need to become better, that [they] do not need to be different, and that there is nothing fundamentally wrong with [them]. 

She quotes A. H. Almaas here,

To see things as they really are, which is to see things objectively, we have to put these [judgements and preferences, likes and dislikes, fears and ideas of how things should be] aside-- in other words, we have to let go of our minds.  Seeing things objectively means that it doesn't matter whether we think what we're looking at is good or bad-- it means just seeing it as it is.

It was "good" to be reminded of this, although I'm going to need a bit more enlightenment in this regard.  :)  This gets into the idea of the child parenting the parent, which surely does happen.   When the child develops the leadership skills that the parent won't develop, or can't... or to use this new phrase from Robert A. Johnson that I love... when the child provides the container for their parents' psychic energy and learns to see their parents' Essential qualities.