This is a recapitulation of the talk I gave in my weekly FB video blog on my book:
THE AWAKENED FAMILY: A REVOLUTION IN PARENTING
You can watch the video here below:
judgmental, manipulation, inflexible, materialistic, robotic, separatist, aggressive, egocentric, archaic, controlling, entangled, inauthentic, typecasting, hypocritical and hierarchical.
It might be a good exercise for you to do as well. Write down the words that come up for you when you think of the word: “culture.”
At the root of all these words is one emotion only: FEAR.
Our cultural environs are rooted in fear. As such, this fear permeates to all around; parents, children and all the systems.
It is important to recognize that fear reigns supreme in most of how we operate in this world. In fact, most of our drive toward success is often driven from fear. Certainly, much of how we raise our children surely is. Somewhere along the way, we ingested the fear that exists in culture and began to radiate it – often, completely unconsciously.
In this way, culture – while outside of us – is also, very much inside of us.
One of the first steps in understanding our relationship with culture is to recognize that we are a part of it. For example, if a teacher acts in a negative way toward your child, your first instinct is to protect yourself and your child. You become defensive and indignant. You might want to protest or, more dramatically, run away from the situation and pull your child out of the school altogether.
This flight-or-fight response while typical, is un-helpful in the long run. As we do not recognize our own fears in the process, we do not learn or grow from this situation. In fact, we put back onto the situation exactly what was put out to us in the form of the teacher being negative to our child.
On the other hand, were we to approach the situation differently, we might first reign in our fear. We might recognize it and begin to cope with it in a more healthy manner. Instead of projecting it right back at the school, we might find a new and empowered way to deal with it. We might, for instance, call for a meeting with the PTA or the school counselors. We might engage in a conflict-resolution with the teacher and have our child present. We might create a constructive dialogue and reach a new agreement to handle things going forward. Of course, if the school is not amenable to the changes, it might be possible that you then decide to leave.
Regardless of the action we ultimately take, the main premise I am making is this: are we operating out of the fear or abundance?
It is crucial we ask ourselves: Are we operating from the same fear-based beliefs that, in fact, the school is probably operating out of? If we are unconscious to the ways in which our own fears mirror the school’s fear, we will continue to unknowingly perpetuate toxic patterns of behaviors. Now, it is not just the school that is operating unconsciously, but you as well.
Culture is not “evil.” It is part of us, just as we are part of it. To ward it off as “evil” and shun it altogether is to rob oneself of the opportunity to engage in a throbbing, lived experience of life itself. In order to engage in life in a full-on manner, we need to embrace all its aspects: the light and the dark.
The first task we all have is to see ourselves in the mirror that is provided by the culture. Only then can we choose to move away from it or toward it. The conscious choice can only emerge after we have clearly seen how we are reflected in the culture outside of us.
As much as mainstream culture can be toxic, it can only be dealt with in a conscious manner once we have allowed ourselves to fully understand it and learn from it. In this way, we do not shun it, rage against it, cower in fear from it or react to it. Instead, we learn from it and most importantly, grow from it.
Conscious living is not about escaping life and living on a mountain top. It is not living entombed in a protective cave up on the Himalayas. It’s about asking ourselves, “Okay, what does this culture say for me?” How can I wake up while still having to live in this culture?
The masters of spiritual growth and evolution recognize that they are very much part of this Earth and that their true growth needs to happen on this plane, not out of it.
I always say, “you are very much part of this Earth. Your children, even of the most evolved and awakened families: do not raise them as separate of this earth.”
When we are grounded in a state of abundance and see everything as a mirror of us, we feel empowered to integrate those parts that benefit us and leave behind those that do not.
In this manner, we are no longer afraid of our child getting a bad grade, for example, but instead see it as an opportunity to either grow from it or to discard its importance in our life. Every moment then, becomes an invitation for this self-examination: growth or letting-go?
The trick is this: Neither to be blindly puppeteered by culture nor to be rigidly avoidant of it.
There is a middle way.
You can still send your child to a public school for example, or you can still drive a fancy red Ferrari, for example, and even enjoy both these things, while still staying detached from a lot of what this is associated with. In the case of the public school, we can choose to detach from the parts of public school that do not work for us, such as the pressure on grades, etc. When driving the red Ferrari, we can enjoy its beauty and speed, without getting overtly attached to it’s wealth and status-symbol. In this way, and in every case, we can engage in mainstream life while still finding ways to detach from it’s toxic elements.
The wise are those who are able to recognize what the toxic elements are and what the joyful ones are. We suffer when we ingest its toxic elements without realizing that we even are. This is what causes us to be entrapped without even realizing who it is that holds the puppet strings.
It is important for us to know when we are in the throes of culture. It is almost like culture is a movie and we are in the audience. It is up to us to be engrossed in the movie or not; to be enthralled or not. In fact, we also have a choice to leave the theater altogether.
There is no escaping culture. Culture is here to stay.
The art comes in managing which parts of culture we allow into our homes and psyches.
Ultimately, we are the drivers of our own destiny. We get to choose how to shape our relationship to culture. No one gets that power.
It is only when we enter our own self-awakening and self-empowerment that we will be able to rise above culture and not feel drowned in its clutches. It is here that we will taste true freedom.
It is only when we can be part of this magnificent human life while still being detached from it that we can create the ultimate joyful experience.
It is our task as parents to teach our children that some of the painful realities they will encounter in culture are here to stay. Sometimes it is not “fair.” But when we teach them that they get to choose how to relate to these realities by deciding how they are going to react or not, they get a taste of their own self-mastery and self-resilience.
It is here that they realize that they can fully engage or detach at their own will.
This freedom of choice is intoxicating indeed!