Sunday, August 31, 2008

New Sneakers

From Tedd Tripp's Shepherding a Child's Heart:

Imagine this scenario: Your child is putting on his new sneakers. You knew last night when you bought them that he was not really happy with them, but they were the only ones you could afford. Now, as he is getting ready for school,he is crying. How are you going to handle this one? If your objective is to let him know what you think, you may say something like this:

"Look, I don't know you don't like the sneakers, but that's all I could afford. Don't be such a baby. What would Jared say if I told him you were crying over something like this? They're just going to get messed up anyway. In a couple of days no one will know what they look like. What do you care about what those kids think about your sneakers? Who made them the experts anyhow? You should be thankful you even have them. Those sneakers you don't like cost more than my first car. Look, I have to go to work; I have more important things to worry about than sneakers ..."

Now, if your primary objective is to understand the child's internal struggles, you could have a conversation like this:

PARENT: You're upset about the sneakers, aren't you?
CHILD: Yeah.
PARENT: I didn't think you liked them when we bought them last night. You didn't want to tell me, did you?
PARENT: What don't you like about them?
CHILD: They look stupid.
PARENT: I don't know what you mean.
CHILD: Jared says they look stupid.
PARENT: When did Jared see them? We just got them last night.
CHILD: Chris got a pair just like this and Jared told everybody in class that he looked like a dweeb.
PARENT: What's a dweeb? Oh, never mind. What looks dweeby about those sneakers?
CHILD: This red strip on the back. They don't put red stripes on the the new ones. They're last year's shoes---that's why they were only $87.98.
PARENT: Oh, I see. You're afraid that they will call you a dweeb today, right?
CHILD: Yeah.
PARENT: That really hurts, doesn't it?
CHILD: Yeah, I don't know why they should care about what my shoes are like, but I know they'll call me a dweeb.
What are you learning? Your child is struggling with feelings that you can identify with. There is a genuine pressure out there in his third-grade classroom. He is feeling the pressure to be approved by his peers. This circumstance is bringing out the hopes and fears of his heart.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Original Goodness

I have spoken of a light in the soul, a light that is
uncreated and uncreateable ... to the extent that
we can deny ourselves and turn away from created
things, we shall find our unity and blessing in that
little spark in the soul, which neither space nor time
---Meister Eckhart

In his book "Original Goodness", Eknath Easwaran comments and expands on these words, explaining that Eckhart essentially taught four principles:

First, there is a "light in the soul that is uncreated and
uncreateable": unconditioned, universal, deathless, in
religious language, a divine core of personality that cannot
be separated from God. Eckhart is precise: this is not what the English language calls the "soul," but some essence in the soul that lies at the very center of consciousness. ... In Indian mysticism this divine core is called simply atman, "the Self".

Second, this divine essence can be realized. ... It can and should be discovered, so that its presence becomes a reality in daily life.

Third, this discovery is life's real and highest goal.

Last, when we realize this goal, we discover simultaneously that the divinity within ourselves is one and the same in all --- all individuals, all creatures, all of life.

Easwaran also describes this "little spark in the soul" as a "divine seed" and quotes Origen:

because it is God that has sowed the seed in us, pressed it in,
begotten it, it cannot be extirpated or die out; it glows and
sparkles, burning and giving light, and always it moves
upward toward God.

And then Eckhart again:

The seed of God is in us. Given an intelligent and hard-working farmer, it will thrive and grow up to God, whose seed it is, and according its fruits will be God-nature. Pear seeds grow into pear trees, nut seeds into nut trees, and God-seed into God.

The signs of this God-nature, according to Easwaran, include: compassion, fearlessness, and equanimity. Easwaran goes on to say that Original Goodness

does not deny what traditional religion calls sin; it simply
reminds us that before original sin was original innocence.
That is our real nature. Everything else - all our habits,
our conditioning, our past mistakes - is a mask. ... But the
nature of a mask is that it can be removed. This is the
promise and the purpose of all spiritual disciplines: to take
off the mask that hides our real face.