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Week Intensive part 3 - Touching on the Parent Role
Editor's note: This transcript has been lightly edited to bring clarification to certain points of the dialogue and for easier readability. For this reason, it does not match the corresponding audio mp3 word-for-word. However, the overall content and the expressed ideas remain unchanged.
David: It gets to that whole thing we were talking about; private minds. And part of the mother concept is that there’s a responsibility for the children. And somehow it can seem even stronger when they’re younger where it seems like yes, I’m responsible for my five year olds behavior or yes, I’m responsible for my fourteen year olds behavior or eighteen years old. And then it seems like it crosses over but there still can seem to be remnants of I’m still responsible for this other human beings’ behavior and decisions too.
Friend: Or wellbeing.
Friend: And knowing that she’s having a hard time getting her money to stretch far enough too. So, you’re concerned about her financial situation?
Friend: Yes, I think probably the bottom line is she’s moving in with me and so therefore it will probably end up being my problem.
Friend: So that’s a fear that’s projected out into the future; nothing is happening right now. So, it’s like that fear of the future?
Friend: Yeah, it’s like borrowing trouble. Well if this, this and this can happen well then this could happen too.
David: It gets back to what we talked about early on; the mind thinks it knows. Even thinking you know what somebody else’s decision-making process is or thinking you know what someone else’s motivations are for doing things. It also gets back into specialness. If the man down the street buys a certain car and chooses to do this or that with it, or you see on the TV a troubleshooter report about somebody with that type of car. It’s like oh, well that’s not my daughter we’re talking about here and those are self concept issues. And once again, you come to the point where everybody who believes they’re here in this world has a deceived mind. Everyone who seems to have come to this world has forgotten their true identity and it seems like as you go along and you learn the ways of the world and you become a competent mature adult that can figure things out, and pretty well as a matter of fact; thank you very much. When you really start to move along the spiritual path you start to see how that more and more is not the case. That the mind thinks it knows even in some cases what would be best.
One of the lessons in the Workbook, I think it’s Lesson 24, is: “I do not perceive my own best interests.” So, if I can’t perceive my own best interests, how can I perceive my brother’s? It’s very humble. It’s a real state of humility. From a place of defenselessness and a place of peace you may be guided to make suggestions and a lot of times parents are guided with children or employers, employees, neighbors. If you’re guided to make a suggestion, that’s one thing. It’s when there are strings, when it’s seen more as advice that I would very strongly encourage you to take into strong consideration here... like that. You can see where here comes the hook and strings of obvious expectations. They’re not exactly suggestions.
Friend: And my happiness depends on you accepting the advice that I’m giving you.
David: And if your daughter seems to be even coming over here, and possibly even moving in; this is going to be a great teaching/learning opportunity to let go of all those strings. And it’s still not like we’re saying oh, become a good door mat where you become totally passive.
Friend: Or cut her off.
David: Or you cut her off or any of those things. But, it really is coming to clarity of mind and coming to more and more just bring up the question of what is this for. What value do you see in it? If you can point people in the direction of even beginning to ask some of those questions, that can be really helpful. It’s just like sorting out the priorities that we all have to go through. Do we value the material things of the world more or do we value the attitude of love and acceptance? Well, it seems like there are certain cases, specifically a lot of times with family or significant other relationships, where there seems to be a lot of investment in what the partner or what the other person is thinking, what they’re saying and what they’re doing.
Friend: But, it seems like if money means nothing, then why do people even become concerned? I guess it’s an ego thing; why you think that’s an important issue because when I think about it that way, I think what difference does it make whether she brings the car or doesn’t bring the car if money is nothing?
David: Well, let’s look at money for a minute because I know that for most people that’s on their mind in some way, shape, or form that shows up; financial. The Course teaches that everything in this world is just symbolic. It stands for something and the deceived mind has given meaning to everything that it perceives.
Some people see a mountain view or a sunset and they just want to stay there and say, This is breathtaking. It takes my breath away. And someone else would say, Hey mom, I want to go ride my motorcycle. Can we leave, now? It’s not taking my breath away. I’m not perceiving the same thing you are. And so everybody seems to have a different perception and that’s based on the value or the meaning that it’s giving it. For some people money seems to be a really, really big issue and for other people it seems to be less of an issue. So, it’s all those gradations. But, if everything’s symbolic and the mind has given meaning to it, the reason that money seems to even have more of a charge on it and why it seems to be so important is that it’s a symbol that’s interchangeable for a lot of the other symbols. If we talked about the Holy Spirit or Love is the universal language of the Mind, we could say the universal language of the world is money. This because it’s so exchangeable for the other symbols, for the food symbols and for the clothing, shelter symbols, for the activities and all the different distractions and things that seem to go on and that seem to help alleviate a lot of the problem. If you seem to have lack and scarcity and deprivation, in this world money seems to have a way of answering lack, deprivation and scarcity. And of course, if it’s a belief in the mind and you use money to make it go away, then the beliefs are still there until they get questioned. You will still perceive yourself as a person with needs. You still have to keep using the magic of money to keep solving it. So, it’s very helpful to think of it as wow, as I’m gonna keep going into this and examining my beliefs in lack, my beliefs in scarcity!
If your daughter would move in with you and there would be this thing about an extra $800. If you really trace it down you could start to see the thought of well, I may need that $800. You could start naming some things. You can see how if you trace it down it always relates to the body; that bodies are the things in this world that seems to have needs and they seem to maintain them and they seem to require money or resources. And then also beyond the basics, Well, I don’t just want to survive. I want to enjoy and there seems to be that whole layer on top of that. But they all can get traced back to the body.
What the Course is saying is what seems like the lack and the scarcity and the needs are really in the mind, not in the body. It gets projected to the body. Jesus was such a good model again. He would say “I am the bread of life.” Kind of a good symbol; eat of my teaching and you will come to an everlasting peace and happiness where you don’t have all these needs. “I am the water.” He had the living water of the Holy Spirit with him and if you drink of me you’ll never drink again.
So, to just starting to loosen and to just even to begin to question ones’ belief system is a movement towards coming to a clarity where moment by moment, situation by situation, the Holy Spirit can speak through you and address the situation. It never is about the specifics. In other words, it can seem like a big deal whether I loan somebody some money or don’t or whether I do it or don’t do it.
Friend: Whether she brings the car or not.
David: Yes, or whether the outcome is that she brings it or not. Those are two different outcomes and again the Course is very empowering. It says your perception is your choice. It’s how you look upon the situation. It’s not the specific outcome.
Friend: So, in this case is it really my friend that I should be looking at rather than the car and seeing what my feelings are about her? Do you project your feelings? Am I projecting my feelings about her onto the car and making it seem like the car is the issue, when really it’s our relationship that could be the issue?
David: You could talk about that. But either one would be on the screen. Again, looking at the meaning you’re ascribing to these situations and taking a look at it that way. Because it can seem that way in relationships a lot of times, it’s never about bickering and arguing about the little things that seem to be happening but it’s about something much deeper.
Friend: You know when you mentioned that I could very easily see and trace it all back because that’s your thing with your daughter. And it’s probably the same way with me and my son and this bathroom thing. It’s very simple. Our ego self gets threatened in some sort of way. I guess in your case, maybe she’s not listening to your good advice and in my case, he’s not learning the good lessons that his father is teaching him. So, it’s sort of denying this self and as long as I got this self to deny I’ll suffer and I’ll have pain. That’s that self that can be hurt and can suffer I have to get rid of and again move towards whom I really am and that’s that spiritual being or that Mind where none of that exists. But, it’s so hard when you’ve invested so much in your self. I’ve spent all my life developing this person and you just don’t want to give it up. That’s the struggle and that’s the pain for me with my son is he’s saying, “Dad, you don’t amount to much because I’m going to do what I want to do.” And it’s like, oh how could he do that to me!
Friend: And that’s probably the same thing, boy I sure did teach her better than that!
Friend: Until we get rid of that self that can get hurt the ego will always put that self out there for that to happen because again he wants you out there on that treadmill, so to speak.
Friend: For clarity, how old is your son?
Friend: He’s 20.
Friend: Ok, it just gives me a point of reference to know that he’s not three. [laughter]
David: It doesn’t make a difference though. It may seem like it makes a difference but what we’re getting at is if the son was four it seems like an age appropriate request, but once again, those are expectations that are tied in, and what we’re talking about is coming to clarity. You can come to such a clarity and such a sense of being totally reliant on the Holy Spirit that you don’t make all these demands and expectations on other people. Expectations that demand unless they change and unless they live up to these standards then the anger seems justified. Because the world has taught us that there are certain things where anger is justified, and the teachings of the Course and the teachings of Jesus are that anger is never justified.
Friend: But, we’re not talking anger here are we?
David: It can be just irritation. When we talk about anger or fear; Jesus says there are no small upsets. That any upset, even annoyance, even a minor irritation is taking me away from peace so if there’s something in there that I’m even mildly annoyed about then that’s worth taking a look at. I’m worth looking at my mind even for that.
Friend: Well, at this rate as you can imagine, it could take the rest of my life just looking at every little annoyance.
Friend: But, again even though there’s every little one on the surface and out there on the screen, there’s only one.
Friend: You’re looking at the various fractures, but they’re all pointing back to the one ego.
Friend: When you get inside it’s only one real big one: fear
Friend: Well now that we got that one out of the way, what does she do about it? [group laughter]
Friend: My approach would be to say, Look, I learned things the hard way. I made my choices as they came up. I did the best by this child that I could do at the time I was doing it. She’s going to have to learn her way. Is that wrong?
David: It’s very important to let it be that they’re going to learn their way. It’s also important to bring it off the screen. Initially it seems so natural to analyze the motives of others. To try to kind of get inside their head like what are they thinking. What must they be going through for their decision making process and that is the major ego delay tactic in coming to a resolution in one’s own mind is to get out there and to start to analyze the motives of others.
It can seem more tempting once again because “it’s my daughter” though. I’m not concerned with the guy on the news who’s having a problem with his car but this is my daughter. It seems like with certain people it is important to know their motivation. Jesus is saying, Come back…don’t get so concerned about this other persons behavior. Don’t get so concerned about what’s going on with this so called other person’s mind, but bring it back to first of all; how am I feeling? If I’m feeling like there’s something a little uneasy and maybe I even want to avoid it. I don’t even want to talk about it then there’s uneasiness there and that’s what needs to be addressed.
Friend: How do you do that?
David: Well, it’s an inward process of looking at, if we get back to the rings on our chart [levels of mind diagram], that the outer rings are determined by the inner rings. So, in other words the second ring from the outside is emotion. So, if you first get in touch with your emotion.
Friend: So, let’s do this as a demonstration of how you trace it back.
David: So, when you think about the situation, how do you feel? What kind of feelings are coming up.
Friend: I feel really anxious about the fact that she’s doing that and more about the fact that she’s going to bring this car back which I think is a bad move. Then the fact that she’s driving across the country by herself in a car that may not be dependable really bothers me; that I’m putting emphasis on this material thing rather than on her personal safety.
Friend: Do you feel guilty that you’re thinking more of the value of the car than her being able to use it to get back across the country?
Friend: Yes, that would be part of it.
David: Well, that’s good. That’s another area. We kind of explored the financial thing, but the whole idea of perhaps fear for safety of driving a three cylinder car over the Rocky Mountains and so on and what would happen if it just broke down in the middle of nowhere and again what’s below the ring of the emotions out there? It’s the thoughts.
So, you have concern for your daughter’s safety and again whenever there’s concern for somebody else, there’s concern for bodies. It’s not like you’re concerned for her spirit, like her spirit’s going to get stranded on the Rocky Mountains; like somehow your spirit could get stranded on a highway or whatever. But, obviously there are body-thoughts involved there. There’s concern over the welfare and the safety of the body. Is that any different than the concern or the welfare or the safety of the body that seems to be the self too? That’s why all these extravagant measures of health insurance and life insurance and food and nutrition and exercise and just think of all energy and work that goes into protecting and guarding and maintaining this body.
So, you can see where it starts to work down to the thoughts. Now, you can see where there’s concern over your daughter’s body. Then that would be at the thought level. Now the thoughts spring from the beliefs and in a sense the concern about the body. It traces down to an ego belief that one is a body and one’s brother, or in this case daughter, is a body as well. So, this gives you a little sense of how it starts to trace down that there’s this belief in separation.
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