soul is our ultimate bowl

bowl for little skateboarderParents and children have a symbiotic relationship:  as parents, we help facilitate the self of the child develop, while the act of parenting allows us to develop our deeper Selves (or perhaps more poetically, our soul-Selves).

While science hasn’t yet located the soul, or the mind for that matter, that doesn’t mean the concept of “soul” is not a useful metaphor, evoking at least the notion that there is something eternal in us.  In some cultures the soul is framed as a given, but in other cultures it is viewed as something one must make.  I like that idea, and while I like to think of the ego-self as a bowl, I like to think of the soul-Self as yet a bigger and more sacred bowl.  In this paradigm we make our soul so that we can hold something of the vast sacred within our personal psyche, and we can also hold our children and their stormy needs and wants and struggles for freedom and autonomy along with their regressive tugging and devouring of our time, patience and resources. 

Parenting can make us Zen, and being Zen can make us better parents.  Just as the nights of the round table placed themselves gallantly, and collectively, in the service of their vision of a just world, we can place our ego-selves in the service of our soul-Selves, and in turn we can place our soul-selves in the service of our collective SELF—what some might call “God” and others might just call “what is,” and what I would frame as the cause of all our collective “kids” (the humans, animals, plants and even the minerals of our shared world).  After all, just because we cannot measure the life energy in “things” doesn’t mean that there is not life energy in every single buzzing atom.

Quantum physics suggests that there is no objective observer separate and distinct from whatever is observed:  look for a wave and you will find one, look for a particle and you will find one, but it’s what you decide to look for that seems to determine what you will find.  Thus, look for your soul, ask what it wants of you, and you will find your path.  Conversely, look for a meaningless world filled with danger and cruelty and you will surely find it.  And look for your sacred, balanced, splendid and perfectly imperfect child and you will find her—and your happiness just might sneak up on you as you do this.

Individuation, or becoming our true and authentic (or soul) Selves is a process of integrating opposites.  If we insist in a world of love and light, we push off darkness and hate onto the “other” (and fail to recognize that other as our Shadow).  If we make a bowl that can hold the yin and the yang simultaneously, the dark and the light, the love and the hate, we make our way to tranquility, compassion and good feelings that last (and they can last precisely because we have accepted and integrated bad feelings that also last, and come to trust that if the universe didn’t want us to have sad, angry, lonely and desperate feelings then we wouldn’t have them).

While the ego-self is a bowl formed largely by getting (i.e. attention, support and encouragement) the soul-Self is a vessel formed by giving (i.e. attention, compassion, non-judgment) which is organically called into action by the demands of parenting.  A growing soul-Self deepens our capacity to contain the unwanted and/or unmanageable (at least to our kids) feelings that swamp our children.  Holding our children within our psyches is a profound way of knowing and of loving them.

So, here’s to parenting mindfully and consciously, to viewing child-care as both a self-tending (for our kids) as well as a soul-making (for ourselves) endeavor, one rife with productive suffering and transcendent epiphanies.  And here’s to doing this in the service of our individual children, our collective children and our emerging unity consciousness—the one world that we all co-create, live, die, learn, evolve, suffer, love and play within. 

Namaste, Bruce


One Response to “soul is our ultimate bowl”

  1. Always look on the bright side of… depression « Privilegeofparenting’s Blog Says:

    […] Rise to it, give even though you don’t much feel like it and embrace its pain and the angst as productive suffering and you may find, as I have, that parenting in and of itself, can be a path toward greater […]

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