Lead by example. Children not only see better than adults but they can taste what they see in a way adults have forgotten. Their essence absorbs energy without the filters that we’ve developed in the process of maturing in this world. Children naturally are nourished, for either the good or bad of that inner food, by the energetic states they pick up from those around them.
If we will taste what we give our children to eat — psychologically, emotionally speaking — then we will gradually come to understand that we should never feed them anything we don’t want ourselves. For instance, what do we teach children when we’re angry or impatient? What do we teach them when they see us anxious over some news?
Children and sponges have a lot in common. They soak up what is around them. Words that are in contrast with conditions are absorbed by children in the form of conflict. On the other hand, if they “taste” our inner silence, they’ll want to be nourished in time by what they have seen. And what could be more healthful and healing to those around you who are distressed than your calm detachment from any pain they may experience?
What all of us need is awareness of the reality of our interior life and its impact on others around us. However, the fear that we may have fallen or failed our children gives them not our wish for solid ground, but instead a soiled ground. Just drop the moments in which you find yourself compromised. Intend to love and let it show you what is not loving. Be as consciously kind as you can be, which means to not express (but watch instead) your own negative states. Be as encouraging as possible without producing false hope. Speak the truth at all times without being cruel or unnecessarily over-correcting. And when asked for what you think is right, dare to speak it in spite of the consequences.
When it comes to the overall well being of your children — all of your relationships, for that matter — there is nothing more important for you to do than to stay awake as best you can. It may be invisible to the eye, but the human heart needs the energy of love to grow, and this holds especially true for our children. Giving them the right kind of “foods” to grow, to successfully develop their essence, begins with being conscious of the kind of energy you’re expressing moment to moment. This is why being present to yourself is the best present of all for all that you love.
Question: Do you have a recommendation for how to stop smoking? I need some advice about freedom from the inner voices that tempt me.
Answer: There is an important principle at the root of all true spiritual teachings, and it applies to your question. The principle is that “resistance to the disturbance is the disturbance.” What this means is that when we struggle to stop ourselves from doing something against ourselves merely out of the wish not to suffer what we do to ourselves, we may be assured the behavior will continue. We can’t end our wrong relationship with the parts of ourselves that tempt us and then torment us for falling into their hands until what we are tempted to do no longer holds any attraction for us. This approach is not trying to dominate what is defeating us, but is based on the idea of illuminating what has been deceiving us. Until we recognize the difference, we will struggle for no true gain because we do not understand that what we are against within us is a secret part of us.
The true spiritual battle occurs in the “dark” of us, a contest between the light of our wish to be better than the bitterness in us, or higher than some heartache or hatred dragging us down. Whatever its nature, this struggle is between forces that are dark and denying and those light and affirming. The ground fought upon is for possession of our interior; to the victor go the spoils.
One mistake many of us make is that we believe that our ignorance of this contest in our consciousness is the same as immunity to its outcome. Nothing could be further from the truth. There is much at stake. And one of the reasons we may deny our responsibility in this cosmic contest is not so much from ignorance of it, but out of feeling ourselves overcome by its challenge.
But we cannot drop out of this contest. To accept defeat is to agree, by default, that darkness is superior to the Light. It is not. That sinking sense of self we have all felt when doing the dark thing we don’t want to do is only a temporary direction born out of a bad decision, and all such bad decisions are always made in the very darkness we then find ourselves decrying.
Here is the point: Everything can change –- become much brighter — if we will do our part. There is a Way to succeed in every spiritual battle. But, this kind of conquest over ourselves begins with calling upon the unseen strength of spiritual Light. This Light is not an imaginary force nor the sentimental stirring of self-gratifying emotions, yet we must place our whole heart into its Presence. This Light empowers us to turn back what punishes us.
The difference between quitting a task, as opposed to reaching the end of our possibilities with it . . . is this: Whenever we quit our wish to succeed at something, we have first embraced a false sense of hopelessness born of an equally false conclusion about ourselves: namely, that our past failings have formed an inescapable pattern. But, when we will work through a chosen task until we come to the end of our abilities and then remain there — aware of our temporary limitations, as well as of those fearful parts of us that would punish us for them — in such moments we stand at the threshold of our true potential. For in our willingness to journey to what seems the end of us, we are gifted with the understanding that there is no ending to our true self; and so, each time we dare to tread these unknown lands of ourselves, dawns within us a new and higher set of personal possibilities, along with the will to explore them.