Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Not Peace, but a Sword.

by John Boodhansingh of Zero Mindfulness

If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.

--Luke 14:26

Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household.

He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.

--Matthew 10:34-39

The Most Important Thing

A concept I return to time and time again is parental programming.

Our awareness of this is critical because it’s due to parental programming that few of us ever become who we truly are.

This is done unconsciously, generation after generation. A child may have parents who’re doing the typical college, job, car, marriage, house, family, work-til-I-die thing and so, especially because this is such a common path, the child unquestioningly follows suit. Many have had rough upbringings and will force themselves to live their parents’ ways for fear of punishment, abandonment, disapproval, etc.

Some children may not seem to follow the lead of their parents at all. They might even argue, “Are you kidding? My parents are a bunch of idiots! I’d never follow them. I had to as a kid to avoid punishment, but now? I’m free as a bird!”

Whatever the case, the programming is still alive and well: sometimes the form is obvious, and sometimes the form only appears to be nonexistent.

In the latter case, one could say, for example: “My parents abhor tattoos, and they would disown me if I got any… So I decided to get one right smack-dab above to my vagina.”

The situation doesn’t have to be quite as eye-opening (or maybe eye-closing), but the point remains: Upon self-examination, one would find that they’re behaving out of spite or defiance or some other unhealthy impetus that can be directly correlated with unhealed parent-to-child programming.

We have this programming to deal with until we know in full conscious awareness, I am choosing to do [this or that] because [this or that] is truly in integrity with who I am.

To truly walk our own paths, we must remove all self-ignorance. Self-inquiry as to how our behavior in any way reflects that of our parents is one of our primary ways of doing so.

Self-Inquiry for Parental Programming

Since you've accepted the basis of your parents’ words, actions, emotions, fears, beliefs, and so on as "how I’m supposed to live," you have to go back and evaluate what is worth keeping and what is worth releasing.

So consider: In any given area of your direct or indirect interactions with your parents, what had you learned?

Here are some general life topics to consider that will contain parental programming:

Here are some other parental programming topics that are born of direct parent-child relationships and affect all other human interactions:

Of the general life topics, you might ask, “What did I learn from my parents about money?” (Note that your parents may each have different beliefs.)

You’d then list whatever comes up. Perhaps, “I have to work hard to earn money,” “If my yearly income isn’t high enough, my mother will think I’m pathetic,” and so on.

The point with this inquiry is to crystallize the position you are in rather than living passively. Instead of sleepwalking through life, actually see what you are doing.

Of the interactive topics, imagine an example in which your father had bribed you as a child, saying things such as, “If you tie your shoes, I’ll give you a piece of candy.”

If your father had done this often enough or at least with enough force, you will acquire the programming and you will try to bribe others and/or others will try to bribe you (and you'll cave).

Please be mindful that although some of these things may seem petty (such as the shoes and candy example), such foundational belief systems and behaviors are, in all cases, false and destructive.

We build our lives upon whatever we’d learned in childhood. Absent healing, we can therefore create for ourselves no better. We may end up appearing by personal (i.e.: egoic false identity) or the world’s (i.e.: collective egoic false identity) standards as having done something “worthwhile” or “good” or even “great,” but nothing has actually improved.

Use the Correct Lens

When doing this inquiry, it’s important to ask questions such as:
  • What is this programming getting for me?
  • How does this programming make me feel?
  • Does this programming ever really satisfy me, or am I ever more thirsty?
  • Is this service-to-self or service-to-other?
  • How do I feel when others behave the same toward me?

If you’re living a certain way and people, especially the ones you perceive as the most important, are basically all abiding by the same sets of beliefs, rules, and so on, your self-inquiry may not be productive if you don’t look through a strong enough lens. You may see things, even the most problematic of them, as “normal as anything” and then disregard them.

You might question regarding your work and see that you’d become a doctor because you’d been inspired by your father who is a doctor. This may sound good at first, but what really does “inspiration” mean in this instance?

Looking deeper, you might find that you’re still living the dream of a child who wants to be like his “superhero” dad or be taking on your father’s line of work as your own in order to “claim your worth.” These programs may be “normal,” but they’re certainly not healthy.

Or consider the human interaction suggestion given in the previous section of “boundaries.” If your parents had always been nosing into your business, you may find yourself as an adult nosing into the business of others. By asking questions such as the five posed just above, you enable yourself to concretely see why you’re nosing is unhealthy rather than merely seeing that you do it and getting a potentially fuzzy rationale as to it being right or wrong.

As you move along in your inquiry, you will increasingly clarify your true sense of self. This solidification will help you to make positive changes and give you more confidence moving forward.

This matters because, well, heck, why wouldn’t you want to be more positive and confident? Also, it can take a lot of courage to be both different and in integrity, especially if you’re breaking away from strict familial and societal expectations.

But be cautious about the self-clarity you attain…

Peeling the Onion

The questions might arise: When do I know I’m done inquiring? When do I know that what I’m doing is truly in integrity with me?

You’re done when you can, as Jesus said, “hate” your parents.

Self-inquiry and the removal of one’s self from the state of parent-based self-ignorance is a long process.

Think of it like peeling an onion. You’re going to self-inquire and get some answers and have a minor epiphany or two and feel great and think, This is who I am! And then two days or five years later, with more self-inquiry and life experience and such, you’re going to realize, Oh, dang. Maybe not. This is just another layer.

For a time indeterminate, peeling is the way a life of self-inquiry goes. There’s no way around it.

Returning to the example I’d used up top, if you read this just before getting that tattoo in a “suggestive location” to spite your parents, you might see this spite for what it is and choose differently. This fresh awareness might cause you to become undesirous of a tattoo altogether. Fifteen years later, however, after continued self-work, your desire for a tattoo could resurface, this time in integrity.

The point I’m trying to make is that you just have to do the work and make the best decisions you can make in any given moment. A specific "when" can't be given other than to say that you'll be completely detached from your parents.

This is not meant in a lousy kind of way, for you might remain or become very close to them. It’s just that you won’t feel you owe them anything, you won't feel the need to live nearby because it's your responsibility to take care of them (especially if they’ve refused to take care of themselves), you won't keep eating a certain diet just because they've said it's "the best" diet, you won't worry about whether or not your mom is going to judge you for the design of the dress you're wearing.

Ultimately, you will be able to love, forgive, and accept your parents for who they are. You’ll have ceased to idealize them and to depend upon them for love and validation.

If you’re at odds with your parents, perhaps you always will be, but you will accept that such is the case and move on peacefully.

An Alternate Answer

The question, When do I know that what I’m doing is truly in integrity with me? can alternately be answered with another question: Does what I say and do bring me genuine happiness and satisfaction?

When going the wrong way—that is, the way of one's parents (which itself is someone else’s less-than-perfect way)—we can experience everything from chronic disease to depression to regret to poverty and everything in between.

Living true to one’s self doesn’t manifest such hardship. Very much the opposite, in fact. This is not to say that all discomfort disappears forever, but just that goodness comes to those who live in alignment with and in expression of their soul desires, traits, and so forth.

If you’d never spoken up as a child because your parents had never spoken up and had demeaned you when you had, you’re not going to speak up later in life. The outcome, as I’m sure too many of us know, is that repeated burning feeling of anger, resentment, regret, and worthlessness that comes up every time we’re being pushed around and don’t open our mouths to demand respect. (To say nothing of the chronic physical ailments this causes.)

Had you cleared up this issue internally, you would speak up, you would demand respect. You might very well feel discomfort in doing so, but at least you would feel good knowing that, regardless of the result, you’d spoken in integrity with your highest needs.

A Few Final Notes

To do this work, you effectively have to consider that everything about your parents has, in some greater or lesser way, been embedded into you when you were a child.

You also have to drop any idealization you have of your parents. They know what they know, they don’t know what they don’t know, and they, like the rest of humanity, are learning in their own way and in their own time. The fact that they’re your parents doesn’t magically remove them from a state of ignorance or unkind action or anything else unkosher.

These first steps can be quite unsettling, but the sooner you acknowledge them, the sooner you can get beyond them. The process and your consequent freedom in life is completely dependent upon how much you’re willing to consciously see, accept, and heal.

Also, as I say time and again about self-inquiry, write it down. If you don’t know why, what I mean, or want more specifics as to how to self-inquire, I recommend reading: “Defining Your Fears. Undefining You.” This post will explain exactly what I mean.

You should find my other self-inquiry posts very helpful, as well. I’ve written many, I cover quite a few topics, each containing plenty more examples, and I offer different concepts and process tweaks to help you get the best results out of your work. I hope you’ll check them out.

Other than that, ummm… May self-inquiry be with you!

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