Obviously, I’ve been reflecting quite a bit on childhood in these seven chapters up until now, both the topic in general and my own in particular. But how often do you think about yours? And what is the nature of your reminiscing when you do? Does it mostly visit you by happenstance – like an impromptu pining for more carefree times in the midst of a stressful day, or a sudden wave of nostalgia washing over you and then quickly receding? Perhaps you actively engage your childhood years much as I’ve done here – plumbing their depths for clues that might point you toward some meaning, healing, wholeness, or closure, or simply a better understanding of who you are. On the other hand, you might well do your very best, consciously or otherwise, to keep such memories in their place – locked in their trunk along with all the other bundles of pain and fear, anger and abuse.
Regardless of how pleasant or difficult or intentional the recollection of our childhood stories may be, revisiting them can help us clarify the nature of our present lives. They can help us glean insight into the genesis of our various neuroses and defense mechanisms, thereby diminishing our reactivity in the here and now. They can help us better understand the unfolding of our karma – our created patterns of thought and behavior – thereby allowing us to act with greater freedom in the present. Such insights notwithstanding, there is an even more fundamental benefit to examining our various stories and recollections; they allow us to take stock of the wisdom that is already ours.
This book is about the recollection of that which we already know – the re-collection of the wisdom that we already have, but which we’ve forgotten over the course of our fall. Our wholeness awaits. It simply requires our awareness for it to be brought forth once again. Some might find this vaguely reminiscent of psychoanalytic theory, wherein newfound awareness of some previously unconscious conflict allows it to be brought forth to conscious resolution. The difference is that, whereas the goal of psychoanalysis is to bring awareness to our forgotten brokenness, the goal of this book is to bring awareness to our forgotten wholeness.
Let me be clear, though, I’m not advocating that anyone put an end to whatever psychotherapeutic relationship they might be engaged in for the sake of celebrating some newfound wholeness that they’ve not yet fully realized. Instead, I hope that whatever exploration the reader might engage in related to the ideas contained in this book will be done in conjunction with whatever treatment regimen you’ve already begun. We must ‘render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s’ at least to some extent. What I mean is that we live in a fallen modern world – Caesar’s, in a manner of speaking. If we allow ourselves to be judged by the criteria of this fallen modern world, then we might indeed be considered broken. Our minds aren’t fast enough to keep up with its pace. Our skills aren’t valued enough by the economy in which we must work. Its social disconnectedness has us feeling lost and alone. Its stress and fear-inducing realities put pressure on our psyches, thereby revealing our various so-called “weaknesses.” However, when viewed within the context of your higher power, your truest self, your Lord, your God, your creator, your source, your ground, your ultimate reality, etc. you are unbroken to this day. You are whole, and you need only to fully realize as much.
For some, this might seem to be a point of no great meaning or significance. For others, it might change the way you think about your life completely. You see, even after we’ve grown into adulthood, adopted our various roles, played all of the games that society expects us to play, and then grown disillusioned with the shallowness, or meaninglessness, or callousness of it all, we nonetheless still perpetuate the thought processes that propelled us down this road in the first place! We still see ourselves as being in need of improvement, or fixing. We still see ourselves as not enough. We don’t know enough, we aren’t strong enough, we aren’t wise enough.
Isn’t it ironic that, after growing tired of playing the “not enough” game that society wants us to play, after beginning to search for something more meaningful or more spiritual, we then risk falling into the same old “not enough” thinking all over again. We study holy books, but our understanding isn’t deep enough. We dust off the beliefs of our earlier years, but our faith just isn’t strong enough. We take up yoga or some other health regimen, but our body just isn’t flexible enough or our resolve great enough. We take up meditation, but our mind just won’t calm down enough. And so we seek out the guidance of some spiritual “expert,” some “holy” individual or another, only to be told that we’re not praying enough, or practicing enough, or meditating enough, or studying the holy books enough, or going to worship enough…
Recall, if you will, that the Buddha, near death after struggling for years with a spiritual practice that just wasn’t “good enough,” then remembered being a child and spontaneously entering into meditative absorption beneath a rose-apple tree. It was only after he approached his meditation in that way that he realized his enlightenment. But just before he did he was tempted one last time to fall into the trap of “not enough.” Mara demanded of him a witness to the depth of his enlightenment. The Buddha then responded by touching his hand to the earth. He was part of everything. He was enough.
Recall that it was Jesus who said: “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” Whereas others thought that the children might not be mature enough, or intelligent enough, or understanding enough, or behave appropriately enough to be in the presence of one so holy, Jesus knew otherwise. For it is precisely what the children already know that makes them most receptive to the kingdom of God right here and now.
Let me be clear on another point as well: I’m not advocating that anyone curtail whatever spiritual practice they might be engaged in for, once again, the sake of celebrating some newfound wholeness that they’ve not yet fully realized. I’m simply advocating getting in touch with the wisdom that you already have so as to continue your practice with a much more solid foundation – a much more down to earth understanding of what you are doing. Towards that end, let’s revisit a term that I introduced very early on in this book – full functioning.
First, though, I need to take a little break! Until next week!
Trapped Childhood Memories by Rosino via:
Original Rustic Garden Gate on Riverside at Eynsford by Richard Croft via:
Copyright 2015 by Mark Frank