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1

Family Life with


Heart and Soul
By Ivan Sokolov

This PDF file can be downloaded for free from


www.knowwareglobal.com/parent

© Soulfodder – 06.10.01
2 Contents

Contents

Contents............................................................................................................................... 2
Introduction ......................................................................................................................... 3
1. Family Overview............................................................................................................. 7
2. Pregnancy and Birth ...................................................................................................... 10
3. Children......................................................................................................................... 15
4. Raising Children or guiding them through Life ............................................................ 18
5. Nature versus Nurture ................................................................................................... 23
6. Boys and Girls............................................................................................................... 25
7. Co-operation versus Competition.................................................................................. 29
8. Children, Toys and Violence......................................................................................... 33
9. Emotions and Children.................................................................................................. 35
10. Teenagers .................................................................................................................... 40
11. Rules and Controls ...................................................................................................... 43
12. Negotiating Win-Win Agreements.............................................................................. 45
13. Spiritual Education...................................................................................................... 47
14. Education and Schooling............................................................................................. 51
15. Sex and Sex Education ................................................................................................ 55
16. Separation and Divorce ............................................................................................... 58
17. Bereavement and Death .............................................................................................. 61
18. Ancestors and Tradition .............................................................................................. 63
Epilogue ............................................................................................................................ 66

© Soulfodder – 06.10.01
Introduction 3

Introduction
1986, my wife Jacquie and I set up a UK world; for us to experience being a parent as
national charity to work with parents. Parent an opportunity to give to other's, to help build
Network was designed to help parents a world fit for our children and our children's
understand themselves and their children children; for our work as parents to be a
better, love themselves and their children spiritual exercise, emotionally satisfying and
more, and communicate more effectively with intellectually challenging – a way to keep us
each other and their children. In this way, we fit and healthy in body, mind and soul. I want
believed we could help parents avoid passing family life to provide us with many
on their old ineffective parenting ways to opportunities for companionship,
their children, and so make the world a better collaboration and the sheer joy of seeing each
place to live. other excel at being ourselves. I want being
parents to provide us with many opportunities
The following year, I spoke to open the first
to feel satisfied that we have done the best for
group leaders conference and quite
our children as well as having made a
spontaneously referred to that famous and
contribution to the greater good of humanity
powerful “I have a dream” speech by Martin
and the planet that is our home.
Luther King. My dream then was for all
children to be able to grow up surrounded by I want the fruits of our labours to be future
love, loving themselves and feeling good generations of children who are still
about who they are in the world. connected to the spiritual source from which
they came. I want them to grow up knowing
To a limited extent, Parent Network worked.
the power of unconditional love and
Yet it became increasingly obvious to me
acceptance. I want them to know how to use
over the years that there was a piece missing
love so that they can come to recognise and
from the equation we were using at that time.
handle the fear that currently keeps so many
A piece that would truly make the difference
of us paralysed.
if we could just have included it in the game
plan. It was an understanding and I want children to grow up trusting in
appreciation of the spiritual dimension. themselves so that they won’t automatically
let others lead them blindly through life. I
Since 1979, I have been on a personal
want them to have balance in their lives, love
spiritual journey seeking to expand my
in their hearts, constant questioning in their
awareness and understanding of life in order
heads and bodies as free as possible from the
to have a truly holistic view of things. I knew
contaminants of all kinds that bombard us
I would be more effective as a human being if
from every angle.
I could be equally aware, at least some of the
time, of my mind, heart, body and soul. 22 The children of the future can have all of this
years on I have learnt a great deal and know if we are prepared to change: change
that there is much still to be learnt. ourselves, change our attitudes and our
values, change our approach to life and take
And I still have a dream. It is bigger today
back control from those we have given it up
that it was back in the 80s, though at its core
to.
still lies the issue of love. In this text, I hope
to share with you aspects of that dream that We can change. My experience is that change
relate to being a parent and living in families. is simple yet hard to do. It is very much easier
You can read in other texts about other to do if we have help at various points along
aspects. the way: help some times from others who
may be only one step further ahead of us, at
I have a dream for our experience of life as
other times from people who have travelled
parents: it is for us to experience parenting as
the road far into the distance. Above all, in
a powerful way to show who we are in the
my experience, the most powerful and

© Soulfodder – 06.10.01
4 Introduction

effective spiritual help comes from a personal will read in this text, so I will spell them out
connection to All That Is, Spirit, God or as simply as possible here before you go
whatever name you choose to use for it. further:-
What you are going to read in this text is the
result of many years of study, trial and error
1. First is the fact that the world really exists
as a parent, successes and failures as a person
as an opportunity for healing our
and a large amount of Divine inspiration.
separation from Spirit. We are spiritual
Without the latter I might still be stuck in the
beings having a human existence, not
fearful and bewildered place I have been for
human beings some of whom choose to
most of my adult life – with it I now finally
occasionally have a spiritual experience.
feel able to move out into the world and be
By working and playing to discover who
who I really am as a spiritual being having a
we really are as spiritual beings
human existence. For such is the true purpose
incarnated here we progress our soul
of life: to be who we really are in every
journey through the stages of growth and
moment. For it is through this dedication to
development until we eventually make it
being real that we will open ourselves to the
back to re-union with Spirit or God.
lessons we came here to learn and so move on
in our soul journeys beyond the physical. Family life forms such a significant
amount of our earthly experience,
I have dabbled in spiritual paths that have
providing us with many opportunities to
required weeklong retreats, silent time in
strive towards understanding who we are
lonely places, hour upon hour of meditation
in the world. A spiritual vision for
or yoga exercises. They all have their place.
parenting would allow us to see every
Yet for me, none of them are as valuable as
element of our family life in terms of
the spiritual path that involves getting up
whether or not it is providing us with
every morning and making the family
such opportunities. How we undertook
breakfast, taking the dog for a walk, doing the
both the simplest and the most
dishes, earning a living, digging in the
complicated of tasks would give us a
garden, talking with friends, playing with my
growing sense of who we are and how we
son, chopping firewood, cleaning the house
operate in the world. It would also give us
and all the other many aspects of daily life.
opportunities to show others who we
Valuable it is, easy it is not!
really can be. The family can be our
I struggle at times to keep hold of my playground, our school and our stage in
awareness of my heart and soul and bring my the exciting journey of unfolding our soul
limited understanding of spirituality into purpose.
everyday routine. I also at times struggle with
the old habit of beating myself up when I 2. Secondly, family life allows, if not
don’t do it! We need to be gentle on ourselves demands, that we accept our
and kind with each other as we strive to live interdependence with all living things. No
in love and not slip into the old familiar ways aspect of life is possible in isolation. The
of behaving. energy we require to live derives from the
sun and is only available to us as a result
To help, I offer you 7 elements that make the
of the great chemical processes of nature.
difference for me and now many others in
These can only benefit us in our modern
staying focused on the spiritual in everyday
western world through the efforts of the
life. These 7 elements come from the Divine
farmers, distributors, packers, freight
inspiration I am grateful to have received as
drivers and retailers who bring us our
well as previous spiritual teachings. They are
food, not to mention the enormous
neither new nor unique to me, though the
infrastructure that makes their work
combination of them appears in few other
possible. As we lead our daily lives, we
places. These elements underpin all that you

© Soulfodder – 06.10.01
Introduction 5

can hold in the back of our mind the


4. Fourthly, remember that we have total
understanding that without the rest of
freedom of choice. There is nothing
humanity, nature and the planet we would
preordained about how our life or our
not be able to achieve anything. This
world will unfold. It is the choices we
realisation ever-present in us will
make moment by moment that dictate the
reinforce our acceptance of the
outcome of our thoughts and our actions.
fundamental spiritual principle that we
We are creating our present, and thus our
are all one, that there is no real separation
future, at every turn and twist of the road
at the level of Spirit between any of us, or
of life. Nothing happens to us by chance
between us and the birds, beasts, insects,
and we can affect everything that goes on
plants and earth formations of our home.
around us through the choices we make.
Through our acceptance of this one-ness
In our role as parents we will also
we can help our children to learn about
inevitably affect the future our children
reverence and gratitude in a very natural
will have by the choices we make for
way.
them when they are little.
3. Thirdly, living with children provides us
5. The fifth element follows inevitably from
with constant opportunities to remember
the fourth: if we have freedom of choice
that there are only two fundamental
then we can also be expected to take full
energies in the universe: love and its
responsibility for the choices we make.
opposite, fear. The emotions are the
Yet, combine this element with number
driving force of the universe; from them
two above, and our responsibility is
stem our ability to achieve anything.
logically to everyone else around us as
Beneath all the emotions that we
well as to ourselves. As a parent there
experience always lies either love or fear,
will be many times when it is appropriate
and which we choose to operate by,
to take responsibility for our children and
moment by moment, will have a
for meeting their needs as well as our
considerable impact on us and our world.
own. And there will be other times when
Love is a fundamentally constructive and
it is more appropriate to interpret this
creative energy that can move others and
element as the “ability to respond” to our
us forward in our spiritual purpose. By
children as well as everyone else we
contrast, fear is a fundamentally
come across.
destructive energy that, though possibly
achieving much in the short term, will
6. For, the sixth element of the spiritual
always hold us back in the long term.
approach to life is the fact that thought
As we go about our daily lives with our creates reality. Each of us is currently
children and our partners, we can doing our bit to generate the world
consciously choose unconditional love as around us through our unconscious and
much of the time as possible. We can conscious thinking processes.
resist the temptation to let fear rule our Recognising the power of our thinking
lives and how we bring up our children. can consciously and quite dramatically
For fear will hold us back, stifle our equip us to create the family and the
creativity and reduce our potential in the world in which we wish to live.
present and the future for achieving all
that we can really be. Equipped with this 7. The seventh spiritual element is that we
basic understanding of the energies of life inhabit a truly abundant universe. Life
there is little that we cannot achieve if we will be much sweeter is we give up the
set our minds and hearts to it. scarcity mentality that drives so much of
life and replace it with a spiritual
understanding of abundance for all. It is

© Soulfodder – 06.10.01
6 Introduction

only fear that creates scarcity. There is a Move out from under the shadow cast by the
physical abundance of all that is community or family of which you have been
necessary to create and maintain a a part and free yourself up to think differently
comfortable, healthy and rewarding about the world. In the knowledge of the
existence for every member of the human abundance that God or Spirit created, you can
race. The realisation of abundance allows now choose to expand your consciousness
us to freely give to others rather than grab and tap into the spiritual energy available to
for ourselves, in the full knowledge that it you to build anew.
is through giving that we receive.
Let me end this introduction by clarifying
These seven elements provide all the what I mean when I use the terms God or
guidance required to help us know what to do, Spirit – two words that I use in exactly the
to achieve the spiritual vision of family life as same ways. For me, God is the Divine life
an elegantly efficient process of helping us force that flows through everything; God is
unfold on our soul journey. Open yourself to the creator of all that exists and at the same
the reality of your deep soul connection to exists in all that has been created. I live every
Spirit and know that the presence of Spirit in day with the paradox that God exists within
you, as in all things, brings the power and you and me at the same time as having
energy of life to carry you through any toil or created the very matter that makes us up. We
struggle. Open up your heart to all around are God and yet God is also outside of us.
you and know that in collaboration with the God is love and fills the Universe with love.
rest of life, of which you are but one
I am very much aware that many people –
interconnected piece, you can ensure that
like me up until 10 years ago – have
everything you do or produce will play a part
enormous personal and cultural issues with
in the spiritual evolution of humanity.
the term God. Yet, in all my spiritual journey
Recognise that you have choice in all you do, I have not yet come across another English
and that choosing love instead of fear will word that offers the meaning I wish to give it.
allow you to make the most elegant choices Spirit with a capital S comes nearest, and I
available to you moment by moment. In that use it in alternate chapters of my writing in
way you can even more easily take deference to those who cringe at the mention
responsibility for your life, constantly of God.
energised by the knowledge that you are
where you are because that is what you chose
for the lessons to be learnt, offerings to be
made and gifts to receive. And, by accepting
your responsibility for others and your world
as well as yourself, you will ensure that all
your choices and actions have as much
positive impact as they can and create as little
waste, pollution and pain as possible.
Open your mind to the recognition that you
play a substantial part in creating the world in
which you live. The process of creativity
works as your thoughts interact with the
spiritual life essence of the universe. So
choose to create the life you wish to lead in
the world you wish to inhabit and know that
what you choose will happen. Actively work
to undo the old patterns of thinking you took
on unwittingly in the early years of your life.

© Soulfodder – 06.10.01
1. Family Overview 7

1. Family Overview
Family is vitally important to us all at the potential to combine the profound physical
present time. Families provide people with a pleasure of sex with experiencing the flow of
safe, supportive environment in which to the love of God or Spirit through us to each
learn and grow. They can be the seedbeds of other and the world. This is the most
spiritual evolution for humanity, a source of wondrous process and one that will remain
unconditional love that can also spread out central to the human condition for all time.
into wider communities. Families have the
If undertaken with the reverence that it
potential to be immensely nurturing of the
deserves as a true spiritual channel of love,
body, mind and spirit. We learn most of what
the result is a bond between a man and a
we need to know about life from our
woman with that which is waiting to be born
experiences in and of the family. This gives
and which becomes the child of their love.
us as parents both huge power and
The current human social unit best suited to
considerable responsibility to ensure that we
this process is the long-term, loving
provide our children with the best possible
relationship between two people of the each
start in life.
sex. From this ideal perspective, any family
Unfortunately, families in many of our that is caring for children within it will be
societies have come under increasing pressure most effective if it contains a father and
in modern times and do not always manage to mother joyfully sharing their roles as parents.
fulfil the promise that they hold. This does This does not mean that other families do not
not mean that it is time to replace them with work. There are many single parents and
some other model. The family, in one form or same-sex couples doing a good job of guiding
another, will continue to be a powerful tool children through their early years.
for socialisation for many years to come, even
Let us stick with the ideal for a moment,
as the detail of that socialisation will change.
however. There is much to be said for this
In this text we will consider many elements of ideal family to include quite a lot more than
family life and the growing up of our young. just Mum and Dad and 2 or 3 kids. An
All that we will cover will sit within the enormous amount of the stresses and strains
current forms of family, aiming to show how experienced in “civilised” societies stems
raising a family can become part of moving from the pressure felt by parents living in
humanity in general forward towards the isolated nuclear families with little or no help
future that beckons us. Most of what I write or support from networks such as their
here relates to family life of any shape or size, families of origin, their friends or
whether nuclear, single parent, extended, communities.
stepfamily or any other label you may attach
Traditional communities that have a wider
to it. Before we can consider all these
definition of family find it very much easier
different forms of family life, it would be
to cope with the ups and downs of life. In
useful to consider what role the family can
their most extended form, families in some
play in the spiritual development of
parts of the world include virtually the whole
individuals, and so of the human race as a
tribe or community, with next to no-one
whole.
excluded from a sense of kinship with the
In my text on Marriage I write on the subject children of any particular couple. Such is the
of spirituality, lovemaking and sex. So I don’t wisdom of this way of thinking and behaving
want to go into detail here. Let it be enough to that you will find it in place in most highly
say that the physical creation of a new human evolved societies across the universe.
life ready for the incarnation of a soul is far
None of this makes nuclear families, whether
more than just a physical action. In our
with one parent or two, in any way wrong or
experience of lovemaking we have the
second-rate. Yet they will find their task

© Soulfodder – 06.10.01
1. Family Overview 8

harder to achieve in the absence of support. In condemning him or her. Let us remember to
the case of families in which, for whatever be as discerning as we possibly can, without
reason, only one parent is active in the sitting in judgment, waiting to hand out
process of loving and guiding children, the decisions on right and wrong, punishment or
children will inevitably receive less to help reward.
them in their growing up than if they have
Back to starting a family. Physically it is
two loving adults on hand. A family which
easier and safer for young adults to conceive
includes two adults, one of whom is not a
and bear children than it is for older ones.
biological parent, will be able to provide more
Both the man and woman have been exposed
than a single parent can for the children
to fewer polluting substances and energies, so
emotionally and spiritually provided that the
their reproductive systems are likely to be
non-biological parent is aware enough to love
most healthy in the first ten years of their
the children unconditionally.
sexually mature life.
In families in which two or more adults of the
However, those first ten years, and probably
same gender share the task of guiding
the following ten or more, are the years when
children lovingly, the children will have the
they are likely to be least suited to spending
potential to gain more than where there is
time at home passing on the wisdom of
only one. Yet, not having a balance of male
humanity on to new members. For a start,
and female energy present will detract from
they are nowhere near finishing their own
the total they might otherwise receive.
learning and growing process, so may be far
In considering all forms of family, let us from wise themselves. They are normally the
remember that there are no such things as people most suited to be out in the world
right and wrong in the Spiritual Universe. undertaking the physically and emotionally
Some things work and some don’t. There are strenuous activities that society demands.
those who believe God dictates one way and
In many more highly evolved societies in the
condemns others. But it is only we who are
universe, young adults create the next
judgemental in such matters. My experience
generation and leave the bulk of caring and
of God is of a truly accepting force that
education to their elders. The elders are both
creates all that is and powers it with total
better equipped for this task and often less
unconditional love. If we were to stop
well able to work in the world. Such a system
condemning others and ourselves our world
exists to some degree amongst a few tribal
would be a happier, saner and safer place to
cultures of indigenous peoples who have
live in.
escaped the process of “civilisation”.
Let us briefly consider the difference between
Those effective societies which have been
judging and condemning. It is important for
fortunate enough to retain their tribal way of
us to become effective at making judgments
life have many advantages over the
in our lives based on as much information as
“advanced” societies which have struggled to
we can find. This ability to figure out as
make their communities civilised places to
accurately as possible, moment by moment,
live in. They have avoided growing too large
whether things are working, whether
and so have retained a way of life more akin
situations and people serve us well and what
to an extended family than an unrelated
the possible outcomes might be, is a crucial
community. All adults within them often
skill for all of us to develop. It is unfortunate
accept responsibility for caring for everyone’s
that it becomes entangled with our readiness
children. This creates a level of acceptance
to condemn those things, people and
and unconditional love that is effective in
circumstances that we judge as negative or
providing a safe space for children and young
not useful. This is such a prevalent tendency
people. Where they still exist, such societies
that in the English language judging someone
are humanly and spiritually better suited to
has become almost synonymous with
supporting young human beings in growing to

© Soulfodder – 06.10.01
1. Family Overview 9

maturity than those in which the vast majority


of us live. In regard to bringing up children,
they work: ours don’t.
This text is all about ways in which we can all
make the family work far more effectively for
us, our children and the human race as a
whole. For families are not just about raising
children. They are also about deepening the
spiritual bonds between people who have
decided to follow the same life path for a
time. They can provide a haven for the elders
of society, not to mention the wounded and
damaged members who are too often now left
to fend for themselves in a seemingly loveless
world.
Families can evolve to play a vital role in the
evolution of society, if we are willing to take
up the challenge.

© Soulfodder – 06.10.01
10 2. Pregnancy and Birth

2. Pregnancy and Birth


The growth of the baby in the womb and its Relevant to this unfolding of new life is the
delivery into the outside world is one of the idea of karma. The difficulty with the concept
great miracles of human life. For the mother it of karma as it is too often used is that it
is both a great sacrifice and a great privilege. contains an element of judgment and
A sacrifice because of the physical strains she punishment. You do something “bad” in one
will experience and the disruption required in life and are punished for it in the next life.
everyday life for so long. A privilege because This presupposes that the universe is a
of the joy that can result and the never-ending judgmental place ruled by “a harsh,
gifts that motherhood can bring into a unforgiving God”. It is not.
woman’s life for years to come.
The incarnating soul chooses many aspects of
It can also be a significant element in a the life it will lead by virtue of the physical
woman’s spiritual journey. You might almost body and earthly situation into which it is
say that a built-in side effect of the whole born. It does so in order to have the
process of giving birth to a baby and then experiences it needs in the physical world to
caring for an infant is to open the heart and live out its purpose of rediscovering who it
soul of the mother to total unconditional love. really is. Through many experiences of
Not everyone will choose to experience the physical life, the soul ultimately comes to re-
spiritual transformation this process offers; member itself as one with Spirit. There are
yet many will know that their ability to love many lessons to be learnt in the journey of
has been increased as a result. coming to full awareness and accepting that
love is all there is and that we are all one with
The incarnating child is as close to Spirit as it
each other and with Spirit.
is possible for most human beings to get. As
such, caring for it provides both mother and For some people those lessons may be easier
father with the opportunity to open a channel to learn if they choose a life with some level
directly to the love of Spirit that flows of physical or mental affliction. For some
through all of life. Even during the pregnancy they may be easier if they choose harsh
it is very possible for the parents to start to circumstances in their families or
connect spiritually with their child, through communities and the social and political
their child to Spirit and, at the same time, ever environment around them.
more deeply with each other.
Each of us has our own personal path to
Growing in the mother’s womb is also an follow. Though our souls have choice about
important process of spiritual transformation when and where to be born again, we cannot
for the child. Through the safety, comfort and control all aspects of the circumstances we
nourishment of her body the mother provides choose. Many of us are fortunate to choose
the unborn child with an environment in families and environments that support our
which it can start the transition from spirit to soul paths. Many more are unfortunate to
matter. This transition takes many years to choose situations that make it hard; we can be
complete; yet, pregnancy is such an important sucked into powerful collective thought
part of it. A loving mother able to take the processes in our families and/or communities
time to feel connected with her unborn child and forget what we have come to learn. This
can do a great deal to welcome the new is part of why we choose to keep coming
human being into its body, easing what is a back, hoping that next time we will be better
potentially harsh move from the world of able to fulfil our learning and so come nearer
spirit into physical form. During this time, she to achieving our soul purpose.
can do much to soothe the incarnating soul,
making friends with it, and talking it through Karma in the sense of paying for the sins of a
the early days of its life in the womb. past life in this one does not exist in the
universal nature of things, any more than do

© Soulfodder – 06.10.01
2. Pregnancy and Birth 11

heaven or hell. Many of us may well have nutrition, unnecessary stimulants or sedatives.
chosen to live a life this time round based on Much has been documented about the
what our soul needs to learn as a result of physical process of human foetal growth,
other lives lived or being lived right now in clarifying lots of opportunities to ensure that
the physical realms. Some of us learn lessons every child born into this world has a good
easily and quickly. Others struggle not only biochemical basis for all future physical
through one life but perhaps several, not growth.
learning what we need to help us move on to
It is worth every effort a mother can make to
the next stages in our personal spiritual
provide herself with an excellent diet leading
journey.
up to and during pregnancy. The less
There are souls who only need come down to contaminated the food and drink she takes in
earth for a very short time, such as with some the less harm she will pass on to her child.
children who die in the womb or at birth. Unfortunately, the list of irritants that can
They may have learnt their lessons through affect the physical and emotional systems of
the process of pregnancy, or they may have the human body is very long. The food most
chosen to incarnate for the benefit of someone mothers eat contains residues of pesticides,
else rather than themselves. The unborn child herbicides and fertilisers. As a result of the
may choose to incarnate to help with the agro-chemical farming systems we now
healing of the mother or father it has chosen. employ it is also lacking both in minute
If this requires the death of the physical body elements of biochemical makeup and in the
prior to or at birth then that soul willingly lets vitality of unpolluted living food. Luckily, the
go and returns to spirit. It may also be that the trend towards organic production will make it
soul recognises that the situation into which it easier to ensure a full and adequate natural
has chosen to be born is not suited to the life diet for women carrying babies.
lessons it wishes to learn this time round and
The list of potential pollutants is not limited
so chooses to leave the body before it is fully
to food alone. We could usefully be aware of
developed.
the ways in which the life we lead right now
In my experience, these ideas are hard to potentially interferes with our desire to
accept by people who see human life as provide our children with a good start. Even a
sacred. It is not. The soul is sacred. The soul small look at these ways runs the risk of
willingly moves in and out of the physical digging up unpalatable truths that are not so
form without any sense of trauma. Life never easy to hear.
ends or begins, it is a continuous process of
The air we breathe is full of chemical
living, only the physical context changes, the
pollutants that can affect many of the bodily
garage for the soul is periodically knocked
functions of the mother carrying a child, and
down and rebuilt. It is only those who watch
can be passed through her blood to the child
from the physical realm who see the
itself, affecting the growth of nerve and brain
beginning of life in conception and it’s ending
tissue, bone structure and internal organs. All
in death. If we recognise this as an illusion,
these effects are so minute as to be discounted
then we will no longer be afraid of death and
by most conventional medical experts. Yet,
will be better able to live to the full in the
the result is to weaken the elements of a
present moment.
finely balanced system that would otherwise
This does not mean the body is unimportant. be able to function almost indefinitely.
Pregnancy is about the most important period
Some of the air pollution we expose ourselves
in the physical development of the child. It is
to comes directly from the waste products
well known by doctors that many of the seeds
carried in the air from cars, factories, power
of vitality are sown during these nine months
stations, incinerators, even the back-garden
of growth. This is when the unborn body is
bonfire burning apparently “organic” matter.
most at risk from pollutants, inadequate
More of it comes from the materials we

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12 2. Pregnancy and Birth

surround ourselves with – the plaster and avoid many of them. Paradoxically it is the
paint on our walls, the unnatural fibres in our richer and more “developed” societies that
floor and furniture coverings, the glues and face the greatest threats in these areas. We can
resin used in fibre board and other artificial avoid many pollutants once we know of their
wood products used in furniture making, not existence. We can clean our houses the ways
to mention our clothes and the residue from our grandparents did with such things as
the chemicals we use to treat our clothes, our baking soda and vinegar rather than chemical
hair and our skin – the list is long. cleaners full of skin irritants. We can choose
to furnish and decorate our houses with
Then there is the pollution of sound and
natural materials and products instead of
energy that is so all pervasive in our modern
paints and foam products giving off
world. Just as people are now beginning to
poisonous fumes.
discover the healing power of sound, so we
might wisely start to explore the polluting We can be selective about the music we
power of sound. Sound has the power to expose yourselves and our children to.
affect the vibrations of molecular structures
We can change the values we live by. Right
and so bring about changes in the working of
now, we are at risk of valuing convenience
cells, which do not promote the truly healthy
over good health, speed over quality, and
growth of the body and mind.
money over long-term survival.
We have also filled our planetary airwaves
We can do away with the cordless phones that
with myriad electro-magnetic radiations. Any
save us having to get up from our chairs and
one element of these has the capacity to effect
be willing to return to having fewer
shifts in the vibration of core aspects of the
telephones in the house if we cannot give
life process. Such shifts affect not just us, but
them up at all.
also every living thing on the planet – indeed
the very structure of the planet itself. We have We can do away with the need to be instantly
to travel a long way from “civilisation” to in touch with anyone, anywhere and give up
escape the radiation caused by electricity our mobile phones.
flowing through cables, by radio and
television receivers and transmitters, by the We can simplify the electronic gadgetry in
electrical energy being generated and our homes and offices and be willing to take
expended through cars, trucks, boats, planes the extra time required to cook a meal rather
and trains. The use of mobile phones has than microwave it, wash up rather than use a
added a shockingly dangerous element to the dishwasher.
equation, bathing whole countries in high So many of our technological advances are
frequency radio waves which we will one day not advances for the body, soul or mind at all.
realise are detrimental to our own health and
the health of all life. I appreciate that this will be hard for many
people to do. Life appears to be much easier
What can be done I hear you ask? surrounded by gadgetry. How realistic is it to
We live in uncomfortable times. Humankind ask people to care for their health and
has succumbed to a fear-based mentality that vitality? How realistic is it to ask people to
ostensibly pushes on and on for “progress”, care for the environment and the other forms
while failing to take us forward on the path to of life with which we share this world? We
achieving our individual and collective have choice in all these things. Right now, we
purpose in life. human beings are choosing technological
progress over human evolution.
Yet there is much that we can each begin to
do to reclaim responsibility for cleaning up Some of our distant ancestors chose that road
the world. We can educate ourselves as to the before and almost destroyed themselves. The
risks we face and know that we can choose to technology is different this time, but it is also

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2. Pregnancy and Birth 13

true that we have not learnt the lessons of the We could then make a conscious choice as to
last global catastrophe – that technology can whether to conceive a child in the first place
be used as a servant of the spiritual process of in full awareness of the many issues we have
life on earth, but not as the master of the briefly outlined here. For many people, the
physical. We would be wise to heed the process of having children has become so
warning and wake up to the reality we are automatic that conscious choice has virtually
creating individually and collectively. Much disappeared.
has been written about the fall of Atlantis,
Planning to conceive a child would
which we can study to begin to grasp some of
appropriately include a careful review of all
what happened all those thousands of years
aspects of the parents’ personal states, family
ago.
context, financial and environmental
Let us return to pregnancy and birth. We have situations. Such a review would be designed
dealt so far with the physical aspect. Now let to answer the heartfelt question, “Is the time
us also consider the importance of the right for us to enter into this life-long
emotional and mental. Electro-magnetic commitment to bring another being into the
radiation is not the only type of vibration the world?” If this question were now asked
unborn child is exposed to. He or she is also genuinely by every couple of childbearing
exposed continually to the emotional and age on the planet, very many would probably
mental vibrations of the mother and other answer no! Not only would we solve our
people around, whether or not they are problems of population growth, we would
involved in the caring process. It is as also have a chance to bring up more
important to be aware of the thoughts and spiritually aware and less damaged children.
feelings the unborn child is exposed to, as it is
There are organisations in the world that
to take into account the physical. A child
encourage women to prepare their bodies for
growing inside it’s mother’s womb,
pregnancy, suggesting dietary and lifestyle
surrounded by love and positive affirmations
guidelines. They would be even better placed
about it and the life it can look forward to,
to help if they were taking a far more holistic
will have a head start over the child growing
and spiritual approach to the issues they are
in a fearful or rejecting atmosphere.
dealing with. It is so very important to
Many of us are so unaware of the power of consider the spiritual as well as the physical,
the human heart and mind that we place both mental and emotional. If we would put the
unborn and growing children in fields of fear spiritual first, then the emotional, mental and
and negativity, oblivious to the detrimental physical would naturally follow on. If we
effect it has on them. Mother and father, and understood our soul purpose and had the
even older siblings and grandparents, can spiritual and emotional awareness to
make up for the times when this cannot be appreciate what we are now doing to our
avoided by creating extended moments to just physical systems, we would not be able to
be quietly with the new family member in the continue acting as we are.
womb. Sit with and talk to the incarnating
The birth process is a significant marker in
child, tell it how much it is loved, how
the lives of a child, its parents and the wider
welcome it is in your family, what a lot it has
family that ideally contains them all. On the
to look forward to in life. Sing to it, include it
face of it, there are wondrous things that
in family life as much as is possible. A new
developed societies has done to make it a
baby is a member of the family from the
“safer” process, in which fewer babies and
moment it imbeds into the lining of the
their mothers die. Compared with what we
womb.
often refer to as "the dark ages" of pre-
It would be useful to be more aware both of scientific medicine, things have improved on
our own emotional and mental processes and the purely physical level. However, we have
of the effect these have on a growing foetus. paid quite a price for the improvements.

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14 2. Pregnancy and Birth

The price we have paid is, once again, the lovemaking. In some churches’ insistence that
loss of the spiritual and emotional elements of sex is only for procreation and that birth
the experience. In a few current cultures and control is “wrong”, much of the natural
in distant times when generations of women understanding of contraception has been lost
were involved in the celebration of the by many women.
beginning of life, the process was more open
Given the stage we have reached in the
to Spirit and heart than it is in our westernised
overcrowding of our planetary home, a return
hospitals surrounded by doctors and nurses.
to a common understanding and awareness of
And as a truly holistic process, the success
the process of human birth control and its
rate was as high if not at times higher than
value in the world has to make much a lot of
today. A successful birth was more about the
sense.
choice of the incarnating child than the
journey down the birth canal itself; after all, As to abortion: this point has already been
some children did not mean to be born at all. answered in this chapter, and I repeat: human
Their experience of conception and life is not sacred in the eyes of Spirit. Nor is it
pregnancy being the lesson they chose this meant to be needlessly wasted or abused. The
time round. question each of us can most usefully address
is how far our actions contribute to our
Let us take a moment to touch on birth
discovery and expression of who we really
control and abortion, seen as such tricky
are. And remember two things: one is that we
subjects by many of us.
cannot take another person’s physical life
Birth control can only be an issue in a society away from them without their consent. The
that sees a purely limited role for the human second is that life is never-ending and is
sexual act, that of procreation. If this were the unaffected by the coming to an end of our
case, it would have been more efficient for time in this physical body.
the human female body to ripen for
If considered necessary, we need to carry out
pregnancy once a year or even less
an abortion with full awareness: both of the
frequently. As it is, the human sexual act has
soul needs of the unborn child and of the life-
built into it the capacity to be the finest
long emotional consequences for the mother,
process of enabling love to flow that it is
and where appropriate, the father. The
possible to imagine, not just between two
termination of a human life in the womb,
people but also outwards to those around
undertaken with full loving awareness, need
them. Familiarise yourselves with what I have
not be traumatic for either child or mother.
written in the chapter on Sex and Lovemaking
in my text on Marriage. The womb has two Yet how much more loving and effective it
functions, physical and spiritual; it not only would be if we could act with such awareness
provides a place for the foetus to grow, it also and self-responsibility that we avoided
provides a channel into the physical world of pregnancy when it wasn’t wanted. Choice is
universal love energy flowing directly from always there for us to take.
Spirit.
In the instinctive knowledge that this is so, we
human beings have practised birth control for
millennia, so freeing women from the risk of
unwanted pregnancy. It is only in recent
historical times that this has changed. It was a
change brought about by the rise in power of
the churches that wished to retain the
connection with Spirit within their own power
and control, and not acknowledge it as
possible within every simple act of

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3. Children 15

3. Children
As critical as the pregnancy and birth process that many of us end up lumbered with as
is for the holistic health of the newborn child, adults. Given just a little encouragement,
the energy expended by parents in the next children can hold on to this innocent contact
eighteen years dwarfs the amount of time and with the world for quite some time; it is only
energy that usually goes into those first nine the socialisation and schooling processes that
months. Much of the content of this text destroy it.
focuses on aspects of guiding and educating
Similarly, children have access to immense
children. Before we make a start in that
creativity and imagination in their unschooled
direction, let us look more generally at the
state. It takes little encouragement to get the
subject of children.
spirit, heart and mind of a human child busily
It is common for society to set an arbitrary imagining the most creative of games and
age boundary around the definition of activities, inventing wondrous things and
children, which is not entirely valid. After all, experiences. And, once again, a real
each of us is someone’s child even unto our disadvantage of being so young and innocent
dying. We may not all become parents but we is the ease with which young children
have all experienced what it was like to be a internalise the criticism of adults, which can
child. This may seem unnecessarily obvious, destroy the spark of creativity each of them
and yet many of us forget it when we become brings into the world.
parents ourselves. It seems almost as if it is
The bulk of the assumptions we make about
easier to remember the patterns of our parents'
the need for the heavy socialisation of
child rearing practices than what it was like to
children stems from a belief that people are
be a young child in a family.
born sinful and need to be saved. In reality,
Children start out in life with some the opposite is true: we are all conceived in
considerable advantages as well as a range of the image of God and bring with us into the
disadvantages. world our true connection to the Divine. If
children were encouraged to develop and
They have the advantage of being far closer
maintain that connection rather than having it
to the direct experience of the spiritual realms
ridiculed, denied and even beaten out of them,
than the enormous majority of adults. Unless
then the whole world would soon become a
a small child has received considerable anti-
very different place, not needing to be saved
spiritual indoctrination whilst in the womb, he
at all.
or she will be born with a close connection to
God and the spiritual realms as a whole. It is Let us consider a few general questions on
during the first few years of life, when at their having children.
most vulnerable, that children are at grave
Some people worry about the ideal age gap
risk of having those connections severed by
between siblings in families. The answer to
the attitudes of the adults around them. This is
such a question will always lie partly within
a far greater risk in the societies of the
the particular family and the society within
"developed world", with their long traditions
which it exists. If the family exists to produce
of god-based religions, than in those societies
as many children as possible so that some
of the "primitive world" where communities
survive to care for the parents in their old age,
often have a close spiritual connection to the
then the issue of how close together children
land and all life thereon. Such risks highlight
are conceived will tend to be irrelevant.
the major disadvantage children are born
with, their immense vulnerability. If the family exists to provide a loving, safe
and supportive environment in which a
Another advantage is their ability to
human being can grow towards fulfilling their
experience the world around them relatively
human and spiritual potential in this chosen
unfettered by the assumptions and prejudices

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3. Children 16

life, then closeness in age is a definite issue. unresolved childhood experiences and
In an ideal environment, every child could do resultant emotional hang-ups. Parents lacking
with the full attention of the adults in the in a high level of personal psychological
family to care for them, love them, help them awareness are at risk of becoming as
to grow, draw out their potential and find emotionally dependent on their only child as
their path to being and expressing who they the child becomes on them, and both sides
really are. can become locked in a co-dependent
relationship that is not useful for either.
During the first three to four years, the level
of attention required is at its highest, and the Fully aware and functional parents, on the
emotional threat from a younger sibling other hand, who choose to have only one
arriving on the scene is greatest. The age will child, will not necessarily experience any of
vary somewhat from child to child, and can these problems.
be assessed by the level of security and self-
Is it perhaps appropriate for some people to
esteem the child displays rather than by the
decide against having children at all? It would
number of years and months they have been
serve well to be more consciously aware of
out of their mother's womb.
our motivation for bringing children into the
If we chose to live in a world where the world. Many people do it without thinking
enormous abundance that exists in the about it. They may do it because it is
universe was shared around so that no one expected of them, or because it is just such an
went without, then the social pattern of easy part of the physical process of being a
conceiving children out of fear of the future sexually active human being. Even those who
rather than love of life would no longer exist. consciously set out to conceive a child do not
necessarily take great trouble to examine
Some say that there are risks associated with
whether their reasons for wanting to do so
having only one child in a family. Any such
really reflect both their own spiritual journey
risk is likely to be related to the attitudes and
and that of the being they will be bringing
emotional makeup of the parents rather than
into the world.
the child. If a couple are desperate to have
more than one child and cannot, that will There was a time when the decision to have
inevitably affect the one child they have. If children was never an issue. That was before
they choose to have only one child for there came to be almost six billion on the
reasons that are less than completely sound, planet. Now, it seems appropriate that such a
such as restricting the degree of disruption to significant decision, personally as well as for
their own lives, once again they are likely to humanity as a whole, is taken with a very
run into problems. The same applies in those high level of awareness.
few societies where for reasons of population
There are two questions that need to be asked:
control, harsh measures have been introduced
Is becoming a parent a full reflection of who
to prevent couples having more than one
we really are in the universe? Is having a
child.
child a responsible thing to do for the planet
If we lived in tribes or greatly extended and its inhabitants?
family groups, this issue of the only child
The time is rapidly approaching when we will
would cease to exist. In isolated nuclear
shift the basis of family life on the planet. A
family units, with parents who are unaware of
move towards a more tribal way of being in
the emotional, spiritual and social issues
the world provide a far more viable support
entailed in guiding children through their
structure for parents and children, so making
early years, bringing up an only child can be
the task easier and more fulfilling for all
quite problematic for all concerned. The
concerned. It would also do away with the
greatest risk is that unaware parents may
need for all adults to become parents as the
encourage thoughts, beliefs, attitudes and
only way to have a loving relationship with
behaviour in their child based on their own

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3. Children 17

children, and so experiencing one of the great


joys of human life.
Until such changes start to take place, it is
wholly appropriate for an increasing number
of people actively to decide not to bring
children into the world at all.
I know that in some parts of the world, people
are beginning to question whether perhaps
society should make such decisions for
parents.
It is difficult to change the social patterns laid
down over generations. However, it is
questionable whether that is a reason for
society to take decisions on child-bearing
away from couples. In an ideal world, the role
of the community and the extended family
would be to help couples decide whether it
was appropriate for them to have children.
Society’s role in this process would best be as
educator and provider of the information
necessary to allow people to reach their own
decisions.
It is also true that the huge increase in
population over a short period has made it
extremely hard for societies to bring about the
cultural shifts required for change. As such,
we may all have to accept that there is a social
role in ensuring population control. It may be
preferable to accept this, rather than to face
the natural consequences of over-populating
our planet.

© Soulfodder – 06.10.01
18 4. Raising Children or Guiding Them Through Life

4. Raising Children or guiding them through Life


In English speaking countries, we have close to nature, as part of a holistic system
something of a problem with the language we with a more balanced regard for the sacred
use to describe children growing up in and the profane.
families. So many of the phrases we use
Terms like “raising children”, “rearing them”,
suggest passivity on the part of the child and
“bringing them up” all speak of too much
active control on the part of adults. However,
adult control. If we think rather of guiding
the problem is not just one of language, it
them through the adventure that is life, we
spills over into the way we behave with our
bring an appropriate element of mystery that
children.
better suits the task of learning how to be
There is no doubt that children and young human. Yet the mainstream trend of recent
people need assistance to survive and grow years has, if anything, been away from a
effectively. They need guidance on the relaxed approach allowing for the spiritual
spiritual, emotional, physical and intellectual towards greater social control over parents
levels. They need to learn about what works and parenting. Parents are regularly blamed
and what doesn't in their attitudes to and for not adequately socialising their children.
behaviour in the world. They need to Many people consider the anti-social
discover, without too much personal cost, the behaviour of young people on the streets and
ways of their families and societies in order to in schools as the result of poor parenting.
know how to live social lives. How do we find a way to marry the demands
of society with the spiritual needs of the
At the same time, they need to be helped to
child?
understand and appreciate their individuality,
their freedom and their responsibilities. This In the true course of events, these would be
help needs to be applied without undue one and the same. It is only because our
pressure to conform to some arbitrary code of societies have moved away from the spiritual
social conduct that may be at odds with the that there is an apparent conflict here.
possibility of realising their soul purpose. To Nevertheless, it is not appropriate to wait until
succeed in living towards their universal life someone has managed to change the society
purpose, they need to be able to know what it in which we live before we change the way in
means to be a spiritual being having a human which we guide children through their
experience. They need to be able to stretch growing up. On the contrary, changing
their spiritual, emotional and intellectual as patterns of parenting will have a profound
well as physical muscles in all sorts of ways. impact on the state of society.
They need every opportunity to come to
The needs of the child and the needs of
understand that they have choice about how
society are not that different. Both needs
to be and what to do in this life, free from the
would be addressed by a substantial increase
value-based judgments and frequent rebukes
in the amount of unconditional love in the
of the adult world.
world and a corresponding decrease in the
As parents, we have the task of finding an amount of fear. Children and young people
effective balance between allowing children need a very high level of love and acceptance.
to grow freely with awareness, and helping They need to be seen for whom they really
them to understand the constraints of the are, spiritual beings coming to terms with a
social world in which we live. This is most human existence very different from, and
hard in the technological, consumerist much more limited than, that they are used to
countries where our lifestyle is so much at in the realms of spirit. They need to be
odds with a balanced spiritual way of being. It recognised as one with all of life, as part of all
is probably easiest amongst the few remaining life. On a spiritual level, each child is in fact a
indigenous peoples of the world who live part of every adult living on the planet today,

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4. Raising Children or Guiding Them Through Life 19

just as we are all part of each other and every All is not lost though: there are things we can
other living thing in the universe. Seen from begin to do positively about shifting from
this perspective, children would benefit from child rearing to guiding our children's growth.
being treated as the shared responsibility of However, bringing about a change in the way
every adult in society, not just their biological we guide children through life requires a shift
parents. As in highly evolved cultures in other in the way we live. And the only way we are
parts of the universe, children can be cared going to bring about long-term permanent
for, nurtured and educated by any and every shifts in the way we live is to change our
adult around them, growing in a community ways of being and doing with children.
of spiritual commitment to life itself.
Faced with a description of all the things that
So why do the lives of children and young are not working, the idea of change may feel
people seem to be at odds with maintaining a quite daunting. With Spirit’s help, guidance
stable community atmosphere? It has to do from texts like these and that of others in the
both with the often ineffective nature of our world who love you, much will be achieved.
communities, and with the way in which We can start with ourselves. I found that the
children are reared to be largely out of touch most powerful place to start was making a
with their soul purpose. conscious decision to choose love rather than
fear in every minute of my day. Whenever we
In most of the industrialised countries of the
react negatively, out of fear about what others
world, we have created child-unfriendly
will think of us, or what our internalised
communities and societies in the name of
parental voice tells us is right or wrong, we
progress and development. Our lives run at a
need to remember to love ourselves and give
pace that is too fast for little people. The
ourselves credit for doing the best we know
world has become too full of dangerous
how, given our background and our past
technology, which poses a threat to their very
experience and any training we have received.
survival. Our demand for consumerist
production has taken people away from We can turn the fear of judgment into a love
working in the community into factories, of our willingness to be more open and aware
depriving children of the very adults they of whom we really are. We can direct the
need around them to learn from. As the scale energy that goes into our struggle to get it
of things has increased, shopping centres, right into choosing to become more aware of
merged schools, central libraries rather than ourselves and others as spiritual creatures in a
local ones, local communities are being human world. Above all, we can open
deprived of facilities and amenities that might ourselves to the help that is to be found all
otherwise help to compensate for the absence around us. We are surrounded by the glory of
of the extended family. At the same time, our life on earth, the wisdom of nature and a
perceived need for a compliant, literate myriad spiritual energies waiting patiently in
workforce has established long hours of the wings for the awakening of the spirit in
schooling frequently at odds with the humankind.
emotional and spiritual development of
Remember that Spirit is always present and
children. We will talk more about this last
willing to help us in our life journey. We can
piece in Chapter Six on Education and
tap into that help through prayer, meditation,
Schooling.
inspirational writing and other means.
We have grown too quickly. The pace of Increasing numbers of people are opening
technological development has far outstripped themselves up to the help of spirit guides,
our ability to manage the social and angels and other entities. Others see guidance
environmental consequences of such rapid through a close connection to nature and the
change. Children, young people and families ancient ways of hearing the still small voice
are taking the brunt of the pain all this is of Spirit through the animals, birds, plants
creating. and the land itself.

© Soulfodder – 06.10.01
20 4. Raising Children or Guiding Them Through Life

As we start to work on our own spiritual and both for our children and for the world as a
emotional awakening, we will inevitably start whole.
to see and experience our children differently.
All young people need our help and guidance
We will start to be aware of them as young
about how to be in the world. They also need
beings born to experience life in the physical
guidance about how to learn rather than being
so that they can come to discover who they
taught by simple rote learning. We can guide
really are. We can love them and help them,
them best by finding a way to learn alongside
as they struggle to fit into an adult world that
them, rather than starting from the false belief
is far from user-friendly. It is worth
that we already have all the answers to pass
remembering what it was like to be a child
down to them.
ourselves and offer them guidance in finding
their connection to the spiritual side of life Remember that unconditional love is not
from which they can draw unlimited support about a lack of boundaries nor a permissive
to help with the human side. approach to parenting. There is nothing
loving in allowing children to run riot and
Most importantly perhaps, we can avoid
cause harm to themselves or other people.
instilling fear in them as it probably was
The mountain guide will refuse to take a
instilled in us as a child. It is such a common
climber on routes that are too dangerous. He
pattern to use threats and warnings of dire
or she will provide clear instructions for
consequences as a way of controlling
handling specific situations as they come up
children's behaviour – "If you don't wear your
which are best not learnt through disastrous
seat belt the policeman will lock you up"; "If
mistakes. "No" is such a crucially important
you don't eat your vegetables, you won't
word that it should be used seldom and then
grow"; "If you don't do your homework,
with great wisdom, lest its value gets lost in
you'll not get on at school." “If you don’t do
daily repetition. We can most usefully put our
well at school, you’ll never get a decent job.”
emphasis on encouraging ways of being and
Such common attempts to control children
doing that stem from love rather than fear.
surround them with fear energy rather than
We can avoid getting into situations and
love energy. They come to accept this as the
patterns of behaving where our children have
norm, and live in the expectation of fear.
to be discouraged, and when we can't, we can
They learn to be fearful of situations and
find ways that still emphasise love rather than
people, and act from a fear base with others in
fear.
their turn.
As we strive to change the way we guide our
It seems to be easier and quicker to use
children’s growing, it is worth recognise the
threats and promises to impose control. In the
limitations of living in nuclear families
short term, maybe it is, but operating from
isolated from other families. We can choose
this short-term view is an example of the
many ways of starting to break down the
damage done by not taking into account the
barriers between us and other people. If we
bigger picture of life. Like the use of violence
really want to make a difference to our lives
that "did me no harm as a child", it keeps
and those of our children, let us explore
alive harmful patterns of behaviour, making it
opportunities for different styles of living,
harder for us to achieve our soul purpose.
such as the building of intentional village
It would be more effective to find loving style communities sometimes referred to as
ways to communicate with our children as co-housing. We are not the only people likely
much of the time as possible. At the same to be feeling isolated; there are probably
time, let us appeal to their love, for others in our street who are also fearful and
themselves, for us and other people. In this depressed about the apparent struggle of life.
way, we can help them to learn that it is love If we open up our barriers, reach out with
that enhances life, while fear limits it. That is love, find others whom we can relate to and
the single most important thing we can do with whom we can spend time, and share our

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4. Raising Children or Guiding Them Through Life 21

spiritual journey, we can begin to rebuild a Personally, I have struggled to accept the
sense of community around us. unlimited unconditional love that Spirit has to
offer, which supports me to make the little
Having small children opens many doors. My
changes in my life and my parenting that can
boys when small led me into many new
and will make a difference in the world. It is
places and new friendships that I would
easy to feel daunted. Every successful journey
otherwise have been to shy to approach. If we
begins with just a few steps in the right
operate from an attitude of marvelling at the
direction; the most important step is to make
beauty of life around us and take on some of
the commitment to start out, if necessary even
the sheer inquisitiveness of our children, we
before we believe that we have what it takes
will find it easy to discover other parents also
to complete it. Spirit will not only accompany
looking for a different way of being and
us on the journey, but will also willingly
doing in the world.
carry us at times when the going gets really
Life is a journey, not a prison sentence. Let us tough.
encourage our children to journey as far and
Sometimes it requires little more than
wide as possible on all planes of existence.
questioning the content and process of every
We can encourage them to stretch their
activity we introduce our children to. We can
imaginations, to open up their hearts, to
ask ourselves: "How far is this an example of
develop their spiritual awareness and
love or of fear?" "To what extent does this
connections they were born with, as well as
challenge imagination and creativity, or just
flexing their muscles and honing their bodies.
present ready-made ideas?" “Am I just
We can share in their adventure, following
pushing them too hard to succeed?” “Does it
their lead while monitoring their physical and
really matter if they don’t do it my way?”
emotional safety. We need to keep a watchful
eye open for the inevitable physical dangers The human child takes a lot longer than most
or traffic, machines and sometimes even people realise to fully join the adult world.
people without teaching them to be too fearful Using the intellect is very much a part of the
of the world they live in. adult world, which should be left until the
child has reached a stage of development
We will also need to protect them from the
suited to it. For most children this is some
many less than useful though not obviously
time between seven and twelve years of age.
dangerous aspects of life they will encounter.
Until that time, the use of the mind to be
We can deal with these by substituting walks
encouraged is in the area of imagination and
in the park or the woods for hours in front of
creativity, understanding patterns and form,
the television; drawing and painting for
colour and shapes, rather than rational
comics and video games; storytelling for
understanding.
learning to read too early; a dressing up box
of old clothes for a Barbie doll; pressed Early childhood development requires a good
flowers for Pokeman cards; collections of holistic mix of activities without too much
wooden blocks, cardboard boxes, string, emphasis on external stimulation. We need to
sticky tape and such like for here-today-gone- help our young children to develop their
tomorrow plastic toys. awareness and understanding of life on the
levels of heart, spirit, mind and body, playing
I can almost hear parents I know saying
and testing out their abilities and talents in as
something like “this is admirably idealistic,
free and unstructured a way as possible.
yet many of us live frenetic lives trying to
cope with earning a living and rely upon There is plenty of time for intellectual and
television and video games to baby-sit our technical learning. The desire to push children
children. I don’t want to feel guilty doing so”. into formal education so young most often
stems from fear, not love. It stems from our
I am not suggesting that we strive to do these
fear that our children will be disadvantaged in
things out of some moral need to get it right.
the educational system if they don't have a

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22 4. Raising Children or Guiding Them Through Life

good start. It stems from society's fear that the next-door neighbour to play with the new
inadequate socialisation is the root cause of kittens. Follow your child’s interest.
the social unrest we are increasingly
There are many resource books available that
experiencing. Neither of these fears is
can introduce you to creative play and
justified.
education with young children, offering
Children with a narrow intellectual focus will guidance on indoor and outdoor activities.
usually fare least well in journeying towards Look for them in libraries and bookshops.
the fulfilment of their soul purpose. While the You do not have to be knowledgeable about
root cause of our immense social problems is art, music or creative play, so long as you are
our intense isolation from each other and open to the adventure of learning and
Spirit, with the resulting prevalence of fear in enjoying life to the full alongside your
every aspect of our lives. We would do our children. And remember to ask for help, you
children and our global society a far better may know all sorts of people who can fill in
service if we encouraged them to develop the gaps in your own skills, understanding
their understanding of themselves, their and experience.
appreciation of nature and the planet on
which they grow, so maintaining and
enhancing their innate connection to Spirit
and all things spiritual. We can use our best
efforts to help them to develop their ability to
love themselves and others, to see fear as an
aberration rather than the norm, and to
celebrate the Divine in all things. Let us
educate the senses, the heart and the body,
and allow the education of the intellect to
follow on naturally through a holistic process
of maturing into adulthood.
As we finish this chapter, you may be
thinking that your children are not getting
such a rounded education in school, and
wondering how you can make up for it at
home. Take a moment to review the activities
your child and you as a family engage in over
a day or a week. List the different ways in
which all the human senses are being
stimulated and educated through these
activities: an equal balance on sight, sound,
touch, smell, taste is important. What is the
interplay between their experience of colour
and pattern, shape and form, between tone
and timbre, volume and pitch? How do they
experience texture, shape and form with their
hands? How open are you to intuition and
spiritual stimuli? When you have reviewed
the current state of play, plan ways to make
up for any imbalance: introduce more simple
music making and singing, more painting and
drawing, more playing with modelling clay or
play dough, more expeditions to discover
insects under the bark of trees, more visits to

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5. Nature versus Nurture 23

5. Nature versus Nurture


Seen from a spiritual perspective, this subject profound impact on our development as a
raises almost no debate. The issue is not so human being. As a child, I was frequently
much whether a child is born a certain way or told I was not artistic, couldn’t hold a tune
created that way by those who nurture him or and had no ear for music. Believing what I
her. What more usefully can be discussed was told I focused on my intellectual abilities
here are the workings of choice and its to the detriment of my creative ones,
connection to what some people refer to as becoming seriously unbalanced. I grew up to
karma. create an adult world around me where the
left-brain analytical way of thinking and
The incarnating soul can and often does
operating were valued to the exclusion of
choose to bring into its new life on earth
much else. Even now, my greatest struggle is
elements carried over from previous physical
still to balance my body, heart and soul with
lives. This is in order to provide the
my mind.
opportunity for continued learning in the
greater fulfilment of soul purpose. Contrary to We can also create our experience of life and
popular belief, it is not some form of the world around us through contributing to
punishment for wrongs committed in a past and colluding with the unconscious collective
life nor a reward for good service. The natural thoughts of the society or community in
law of the Universe lays down life in its which we live. This can also to some extent
widest sense, that is physical and spiritual, as be seen as an element of the effect of nurture
being about regaining the awareness of our rather than nature. Again to give you a
Divinity and healing our sense of separation personal example, I was schooled to believe
from God. Each new physical life we choose in the natural dominance of men over women,
to take on provides us with opportunities for contributing for much of my adult life in
growing and learning in this great adventure creating a world where only lip-service was
in Universal Existence. We get to choose the ever paid to equality between the sexes.
parts we play, and we may well choose to set
The third, and unfortunately least common,
up specific aspects of them prior to
way to generate the world around us, and our
incarnating. On some level, when such
experience of it, is through the conscious
elements are connected to the "type" of
application of aware thought. The majority of
character we choose to be born as, we might
children do not develop their full power in
say that aspects of our "nature" are fixed
this respect before the other two has hugely
before conception.
influenced them. For all our belief that we
Even when this is the case, we have freedom have conscious control over how we think,
to choose our parents and the sort of we have firmly held sponsoring thoughts the
environment into which we are born. We also world and us. Child rearing practices in most
each have freedom of choice over how we parts of the world work to ensure that the
live the lives we choose. The vast majority of combination of parental, community and
us find it very hard to realise and act on that social pressure on the individual's way of
freedom. Let us take a moment to explore the thinking is huge. In this way, individuals end
three ways in which we create our own reality up having very little conscious control over
through the power of thought. their own reality.
We create the world around us, and our It is for this reason that nurture has such a
experience in it and of it, through the profound impact on the life of the child as it
unconscious thoughts we take on board grows into adulthood. This is why many
during the most impressionable years of our people do not manage to establish enough
early childhood. In this sense, the style and spiritual consciousness to live out the path
degree of our nurturing as a child has a their soul laid down for them in this life.

© Soulfodder – 06.10.01
24 5. Nature versus Nurture

Seen from this perspective, nurture plays a far intellectual, we will recognise that rates of
larger part than nature. development differ hugely from one child to
the next. Beware any theories of child
It is odd that in the English language we
development that do not include a spiritual
choose these two words to discuss this issue.
framework, since they are thus disregarding a
What we do for our children is not
critical ingredient of the first ten years of life.
particularly nurturing, and what they bring
with them into the world has far more to do Above all, we can ask ourselves at every turn
with spirit than with nature. whose need is being met by any new decision
to encourage or dissuade our children on a
If we were truly nurturing of children on an
particular path. “Am I doing this out of love
holistic level, then the act of guiding them
because it really represents an accurate
through their growing up, and encouraging
balance between the child’s needs and our
them to develop their spirits and hearts as
family/society’s needs?” “Am I allowing the
well as minds and bodies, would allow them
spiritual nature of my child to shine through,
more opportunity to make conscious choices
even as I help them to learn the importance of
about their lives and live out their true
social living?” If the answer to either question
"nature" more fully.
is no, be willing to let go of the fear that often
So let us explore some specific ways in which drives parents to start socialising their young
we can decrease the effect of “nurture” and too soon, too heavy-handedly or simply
increase that of “nature” or spirit. It is too inappropriately.
easy for us to adopt expectations for our
offspring, to project into their lives all the
things we might have wanted to have or to be
when we were little. So we can start by
realising that we will always be at risk of
trying to re-live our own childhood through
our children. This is a fact of human life in its
normal rather unaware state, and not
something to beat ourselves up about. It will
help if we recognise the risk, and know that
by avoiding it we actually stand a greater
chance of healing our own childhood hurts
while guiding our children.
It is important for us to be open to seeing our
children for who they really are at a soul
level, rather than who we want them to
become. We need to allow them the freedom
to explore their identity within the bounds of
safety. In so doing, it will be most useful to
impose only the very widest possible limits to
socially acceptable behaviour rather than
confine them too rigidly. They will benefit if
we let them grow at their own rate; not
pushing them to grow faster because that is
what everyone else is doing, nor holding them
back for fear that they will outgrow their
peers. If we develop for ourselves an
understanding of child development that
includes a full awareness of the emotional and
the spiritual as well as the physical and

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6. Boys and Girls 25

6. Boys and Girls


A common question is what, if any, are the to some degree those bits it is missing in
differences between men and women, boys society are quite easily seen as the more
and girls? The two genders seem to feminine bits. And vice versa.
experience emotions differently, think
If we look back to that period in history when
differently, react differently and more. Is it
our societies were matriarchal rather than
that they are fundamentally different or just
patriarchal, we would find a better balance of
that they have been brought up differently?
the male and female energies. Women took
And how should any differences affect the
their rightful place as leaders in society
way we help our children grow up in the
because they were better able to take
world?
appropriate decisions for the good of all,
Of course there are and always will be based on their greater integration of the
differences between male and female. Just as emotional, intellectual and spiritual aspects of
they need to be different for the reproduction life. At the same time, men were freed from
of the species, so they need to be different on the burden of so much responsibility to be
very many levels for the task of providing more caring and loving in their roles as
souls with opportunities to discover who they physical providers and protectors.
really are.
The shift that came about through the slow,
In the same way that we cannot truly know yet considerable increase in the levels of fear
love unless we also know fear, so we cannot within the male, drove out much of the loving
know human life without knowing both the and caring side of the masculine. It was
male and female. No soul would choose to be replaced with a hardness and an inevitable
incarnated as only one gender, as it would lack of emotional and spiritual awareness
deprive itself of immense opportunities for which have become the recognized, and
learning from two distinctly different unfortunately accepted, characteristics of the
viewpoints. As human beings, our male in today’s world.
understanding about life and our ability to
At the same time, the shift of power from
move forward in our soul evolution will be
women to men left women deprived of the
greatly enhanced by a greater appreciation
opportunity to use their naturally greater
and understanding of what it means to be
ability for integrative thinking and feeling and
male and female and the differences between
seeing the whole picture in life. This left
them.
women with an undue emphasis on the
Some argue that, as a species, we should be emotional that is seldom fully appreciated and
moving towards minimizing those recognized by the male.
differences, accepting that men and women
Aspects of the differences between the
are equal. Others say that the real issue is
genders are largely induced by socialization
finding the balance in each of us between the
rather than being inherent. Such conditioning
male and female aspects of ourselves.
extends much wider than individual families.
Finding a balance between the male and As a result, even where one set of parents
female aspects of ourselves is really no more aims to provide a balance of the male and
than coming to a full understanding of our female influences for their offspring, larger
maleness or femaleness. Society has forces at work in society may sabotage their
stereotyped the masculine and the feminine, efforts.
and so left each of them less than their full
A baby is born into a social field that starts to
potential. The feminine, as accepted by most
shape him or her from the moment his or her
people, is missing aspects of its natural
gender becomes clear in the womb.
gender attributes, and so is the masculine.
Remember what we said before about the
This is especially true of the masculine, and

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26 6. Boys and Girls

three choices — to act from our own unaware I am encouraged by the way that 30 years or
thoughts, to act from the unconscious more of the women’s movement has
collective thoughts of community around us, improved the lot of girls and women in
or to act from conscious awareness of our society. There is a still more work to be done,
own chosen thoughts. Well, the unconscious yet, girls are more emancipated, more aware
collective social thought exists all around us and more in touch with their personal power
and will influence the new boy or girl child as in most developed countries today than many
soon as it starts to grow in the world. of their mothers were in the past.
At the same time, parents, regardless of their I fear that the lot of boys in today’s developed
good intentions, can seldom manage to avoid world is not so encouraging and wonder
passing on the conditioning they have whether the time hasn’t come for a men’s
themselves been brought up with. I am not movement to help put things right. By so
saying that it is important to treat boys and many indicators, boys are failing in western
girls the same, quite the contrary, yet it is society much more than girls. They frequently
exceedingly hard to do so even if we wanted achieve less well in school, get into trouble
to. more both in school and out in the world,
suffer from higher rates of addiction, suicide
In working with the gender issues in the
and much more.
family, the single most significant thing we
can do is encourage the development of It seems that a major factor, if not the major
spiritual awareness in all our children from an one, in the problems faced by boys growing
early age. We can help our children develop up in the present world is the absence of
reverence for the spiritual and the physical active and engaged fathers. Even where
worlds and for their own connection to God. children have two parents at home, men spend
Through a greater degree of spiritual more time out of the home without their sons
awareness, they will have a chance to recover than they have ever done in previous
some of the natural elements of being human generations. Boys are suffering from the lack
that have been overshadowed by generations of effective role models for how to be male in
of socialization based on fear rather than love. the modern world.
We can help our boy children to learn about Boys develop through three stages in their
love, and be fully able to love. We can love childhood: for the first 5-6 years they are
them. We can shower them with love. We focused primarily on their mothers and need
might even go as far as to treat them in all the their mother’s attention more than their
ways that so many parents have regarded father’s. Then from the age of around 6 to
anxiously as being “too soppy” for boys, just post puberty, maybe 14, the father is the most
in order that they can appreciate the power required role model for boys. As they grow
and peace of love rather than the burden of through adolescence, other men become role
fear that they pick up so early in life. models that are more significant. It is natural
for boys to move their attention out into the
We can help our girl children to appreciate
world as part of emotionally separating from
that love is a powerful social grace not just a
the family.
domestic tool. We can help them to
understand and appreciate that they have a Mothers can effectively raise sons if they
place in the world where their ability to feel have no man in the family by finding useful
and think together can be valued, where role models outside the home. Uncles,
“feminine intuition” is more valuable even grandfathers, friends, teachers, sports coaches
than male “gut feeling”. We can help our girl can all help boys grow effectively into men in
children grow up knowing what it means to the absence of a father with time at home to
take their power in a loving way and be with his sons.
contribute effectively to the world around
them.

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6. Boys and Girls 27

There are many things we can do to help boys and generally encourage them to be physical
grow up into the sort of emotionally aware, and powerful, testing their strength and co-
respectful and spiritually open men that the ordination. Such games help bring a balance
world needs. Six simple things combine to to the equation and provide a way to show
offer the most potential. They can be done by that we can be loving and strong, gentle and
either parent, but it is particularly important firm.
for fathers to engage with them.
Most importantly of all, such games offer
Firstly, we can spend time with our sons. We opportunities for boys to learn how to play
can play with them for good chunks of the fair and when to stop. As they grow up, our
day rather than the odd 2 minutes here and sons will need to learn that there is a limit to
there. Even more important than playing with how rough they can be. They can learn that it
them, we can do real things with them, is not acceptable to hurt others deliberately
involve them in making things with us, and that when someone says “that’s enough”
helping us around the home and garden, they stop. They need to learn that accidents
feeding their natural interest to take things do happen and that retaliation makes things
apart, try things out and explore the real worse. They will need help to learn how to
world around them. We can read them books, let go of whatever feelings they may have
tell them stories, play their fantasy games inside and choose love rather than fear and
with them, choosing all the time levels of hatred even in the most difficult situations.
engagement suitable for their age and based
Fifthly, we can help them learn respect for
on love not fear.
others. For boys in this modern world it is
Secondly, we can bring our spirituality into particularly important that they learn respect
our engagement with them. As we do things for women and all those whom they can
with them or just spend time with them, we perceive as weaker than themselves. As
can treat them with unconditional love and fathers, we are required to show them through
acceptance. We can talk with them about the our own behaviour how to respect their
mysteries of the world, keep alive their innate mothers and sisters and all other women
interest in magic, fairies, angels, nature spirits around us. It is also our task as men to correct
and such wonders outside the “normal” them and teach them when we witness them
realms. We can gently help them to not being respectful to others, firmly yet
understand the oneness of all life and the lovingly.
choice we make at every turn between love or
The respect required is not just for other
fear.
people; it is also for the sum total of the world
Thirdly, we can respect their feelings. We can around us. Mothers do a good job of bringing
let them know that big boys do cry so most girls up to respect the world around
counteracting the many social messages they them. As fathers, we have not been doing so
will be getting that they have to be tough. We well with our sons. Boys, drop more litter,
can show them that it is healthy and strong to vandalise more objects, taunt more animals
have tender feelings for small furry creatures, and disregard useful authority more than girls
sweet smelling flowers, delicate spider’s webs do. It is our job as fathers to help them learn
and the other beauties of the natural world. how come it is not useful and what they can
We can continue to cuddle them and express do instead. It is an easier lesson for them to
our love for them long beyond the ages when learn at the tender age of 6 or 7 than it is at
probably our fathers stopped doing it with us. the inevitably rebellious age of 13 or 14.
Fourthly, we can play rough and tumble Finally we can ensure that our boys are
games with them, allowing them safe involved in the full range of domestic
expression for the natural male desire to play activities, preferably working alongside us as
hard. We can have pillow fights on the living men. We can cook meals with them, do the
room floor, wrestle with them on the lawn washing up with them, clean the house with

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28 6. Boys and Girls

them, make the beds, mend our clothes. We


can generally teach them that even the
traditional areas of feminine activities are
appropriate ones for us to be involved in. If
right now, we cannot do this things ourselves,
what better way to model their value than by
learning how with our sons.
When our sons are ready to turn their
attention outwards and away from us, we can
be willing to let them go, to encourage them
to find other men whom we respect to seek
out as mentors and guides along the way. We
can then make ourselves available to other
teenage boys in need of mentors, companions
and guides who are also moving slowly but
inevitably away from their fathers. In this
way, we will keep ourselves open and
available to our sons and so help ensure that
the role of father is ultimately replaced by that
of friend.

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7. Co-operation versus Competition 29

7. Co-operation versus Competition


One of the universal elements outlined in the we know it to experience itself as separate
Introduction is that all living things in the from God, otherwise we would not be able to
universe are part of one whole that is have the experience of knowing the other and
ultimately part of All That Is. I and every so knowing the self. Life is a God sent
person I might wish to compete with are part opportunity to come to know ourselves and so
of the same spiritual entity. On a spiritual come to know and re-member ourselves with
level we are all one. It makes no sense for us God.
to compete with parts of ourselves.
We have been given enormous power in the
Competition keeps us firmly stuck in our form of total unconditional love. Love is the
spiritual evolution. We could usefully start by energy that powers life in the universe. With
questioning whether a competitive social it inevitably comes its opposite – fear.
order satisfies the fundamental purpose of
These are the fundamental spiritual principles
human life: to explore, define and express
that govern our lives and the universe. Put
who we really are on a spiritual level. I know
them together and I trust that you can begin to
that it is God’s desire that we decide in favour
see why co-operation makes sense.
of co-operation and against competition. So
let us consider the possibilities offered by co- If we work together, we can align the three
operation before we look at the ways in which aspects of creative thought and so increase
competition serves us poorly. exponentially our ability to generate the
world we wish to live in. If we work together,
We live on an abundant planet in an abundant
we will start making the same choices in life.
universe. We are surrounded by the beauty
If we work together, we will start to take full
and riches of nature. We bask in the light of
responsibility not only for ourselves but also
Universal Love, the life force that flows
for all life on the planet. If we work together,
through and connects every element of the
we can ensure that the abundance of our
universe. The potential for joy and glory in
planet is maintained for the benefit of all life
our lives is limitless. Naturally, so is the
that inhabits it. If we work together, we can
potential for us to turn away from love and
speed up the process of human spiritual
live in the shadow of fear that exists side by
evolution and so move more firmly towards
side with it.
healing our separation from God.
As spiritual beings, we have freedom of
In co-operation we can enhance our
choice and need to accept responsibility for
individual power to levels we can now only
how we use it. We also have the power to
dream of. There will be no limit to what
create the world around us. We do this in
humanity can achieve. We can fulfil our
three steps: we think, we speak and we act
destiny as guardians of the physical realms
that which we desire to create. As I have said
we enjoy. We can create the heaven on earth
elsewhere, there are three ways we think our
that we have aspired to for generations.
reality into existence: through our
Working together, all is possible.
unconscious thoughts, through the
unconscious thoughts of the groups we are a In time, we will not be limited to planet Earth.
part of and through our own conscious Working in co-operation, we will be able to
thought processes. extend our experience outwards to the stars.
When we live by co-operation, there will be
God created the Universe in order to have the
no reason for the rest of the universe to be
experience of knowing God as He/She/It
concerned about our attempts to reach the
really is. To do that, God chose to create life
stars. We will be welcomed with open arms
and set it – us – the task to come to know who
by our brothers and sisters in our galaxy.
we really are, so that, ultimately we can return
to being One with God. This requires life as

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30 7. Co-operation versus Competition

Even now, acting in co-operation we have the interdependence at some early point in their
ability to eradicate poverty and ill health from social development; it was not innate in their
the world. Working together, we could makeup.
immediately begin to heal our environment
Competition is far more of a male
and set the planet back on course to a secure
characteristic than female and in modern
future. Working alongside each other with
times seems particularly to flourish wherever
love rather than fear we could heal the rifts
high levels of schooling take place. This
between peoples and countries, turn swords
should suggest to us that competition is partly
into ploughshares and make communities
a learnt response to fear-based teaching rather
whole again.
than an innate human characteristic.
All of this and more is open to us when we all
Let us look at competition in the light of how
choose co-operation instead of competition.
we actually live. Everything we all need
Yet, right now competition is part of the very exists in abundance. The relatively rare things
makeup of our social and economic for which we end up competing are those that
structures. This stems from our adopted fear we want but do not really need. Under normal
that there will never be enough to go round – earthly conditions, there is enough air, water
not enough power, influence, friendship, and land to go round. All the basic raw
work, cash, status, food, possessions or materials we have needed in the past have
anything else. This is of course factually always existed in copious quantities. It is only
incorrect. The universe is an abundant place. in the last century that we have started
Even planet Earth can continue to sustain life “needing” metals such as uranium that are
for millions of years with no risk to itself or hard to come by. Most of the expensive things
any element of life, if we avoid making in life we do not need. We can operate in the
growth and technology more important that world without anything precious.
humanity and spirituality.
Competition started to arise on the planet
There is nothing achieved through the when we shifted from a mentality of
expression of fear in competition that could stewardship into one of ownership. Once we
not be more easily and more fruitfully operate from a mentality that says "I can own
achieved through the expression of love in co- something and so keep it from someone else",
operation. Together we will always be able to we start to establish unreal values for the
do more, generate more and produce more scarce commodities. Along with the fear of
than we can when we are split up into factions loss that is established through ownership,
and warring tribes, whether as nations or local there comes the need to acquire more than
businesses. others, and so competition is born. We do not
need to compete for what belongs to
I can hear people asking, “If competition is
everyone. In reality, everything belongs to
such a negative element of our humanness,
everyone and so competition is unnecessary.
how come it has been around for such a long
time?” Competition is no longer limited to issues of
wealth or possession. It is encouraged in
I am not sure it is valid to say that it is a
almost every aspect of life. Children are
“negative element of our humanness”. For a
taught to compete with each other all the
start, it isn’t part of being human so much as
time, as to who is fastest, ablest, cleverest,
part of being social humans. Among the
funniest, prettiest and more. By the time
traditional peoples of the planet, there have
children go to formal school they have been
been tribes who did not compete for the
firmly indoctrinated with the idea of
important things in life, either within their
competing. They soon come to understand
own tribes or between tribes. The tribal
that in order to succeed someone else has to
peoples who developed into war-like societies
fail, that to do well inevitably means that
chose the road of fear rather than love and
someone else does badly. It is hardly

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7. Co-operation versus Competition 31

surprising that by the time they leave school As parents, we have the potential to affect a
they are completely at home with the belief change in the state of the world through the
that there can be no rich without the poor, no way we guide our offspring through their
well-fed without the hungry, no safety childhood. If we choose love rather than fear
without the fearful, no healthy without the in every moment of relating to our children,
sick. They have been set on the scramble to we will help them learn to do the same in
compete for everything in their lives and so their turn. We can learn to pause before we
have well internalised the fear that they were react to their behaviour, their questions or
exposed to in our basic child-rearing statements. Then in that briefest of pauses we
practices. can ask ourselves if our reactions come from
love or from fear.
Many people make valiant efforts to argue
that co-operation is more effective than If we find that many times we are operating
competition, yet we don’t seem to make out of fear, we need to summon up all the
progress. We will only make progress in love and courage we have to choose to react
lessening competition, just as in education, differently. It helps if we make the conscious
child rearing and most other areas, when we effort to love ourselves at the same time,
address our fundamental practice of opting for rather than beating ourselves up or feeling
fear rather than love. We cannot do away with bad about operating in old ways we wish now
competition and continue to live in fear. If to change. “Love thy neighbour as thyself”
fear is the emotion we wish to live with then requires us to love ourselves first in order to
competition, aggression, violence, disease and be able to love others.
social unrest are all part of the equation.
Strengthened by love we can choose with
Albert Einstein is quoted as saying that you awareness the message we want our children
cannot solve a problem from within the way to receive as we react to them. Even when we
of thinking that gave rise to it. How do we correct them, say no to them, help them see
begin to do away with the fear and so address the need to make different choices, we can do
all these issues when we are so fear-full? so with great love and trust, boosting their
self-esteem rather than lessening it. If we
We can usefully start by remembering that we
respond to them with love, they will learn
have full freedom of choice. We are fearful,
love. If we respond to them with fear, they
not because we have anything to be afraid of,
will learn fear.
but because we choose to be full of fear. It
would serve us well to shift our thinking from If we find that many times we are responding
the outside to the inside. Let us recognise the to our children out of love already we can pat
total degree to which we create the reality in ourselves on the back. Then we can set
which we live and our experience of the ourselves the task of increasing the number of
world. times we choose love rather than fear, and
start to talk with our children about the
People ask how come two people living in
choices they make.
similar circumstances often have such
different experiences of life. The answer lies If we find that we are competing with our
in their thinking and feeling. In the same children, we can usefully explore the
situation, one person can choose to look at the underlying fear or anxiety that is leading us
world through the filter of love and this way. When we find out what is behind
experience love reflected back to them; such behaviour, we can remember to accept
another can choose the filter of fear and the fear, love ourselves even as we experience
experience only fear reflected back. It starts it and make the conscious choice not to be
with each of us! driven by it any more.

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32 7. Co-operation versus Competition

So what of the competition that seems to We may have become convinced that we need
motivate people to do their best, strive for one enormous, efficient, computerised store
success, push ahead in their lives? We are where ten local shops used to suffice. We
told that economic competition is healthy, may believe that we need competition to cut
weeding out the inefficient firms and leaving down the costs of food air freighted around
only those best able to supply our needs. the world to provide us with a diet that no
longer changes with the seasons nor fits the
Let us start with how competition motivates
natural rhythm of life. We may believe that
people to do their best. Competition does
the motorcar is the salvation of all our
have the effect of pushing ahead those people
personal problems.
who feel they have a chance of getting to or
near the top. For people who have chosen On the other hand, we may wake up and
unconsciously to exist in the middle or realise that we don’t need any of these things
towards the bottom, competition does little to at all. That our needs are few and simple, and
encourage or motivate them. On the contrary, it is the satisfaction of our wants that is
it can be constantly demotivating and taking us towards the brink of disaster.
reinforce feelings of failure, so creating self-
fulfilling prophecies. We will consider economic competition more
fully in later texts. Let it be enough for now to
The more important question to be considered say that economic competition, just like
is how much more useful would be a genuine individual competition, is born of fear and
loving atmosphere of co-operation? We have akin to a cancer in the body of the human
plenty of examples around us of how much race.
more effective good teamwork is than
individuals competing with each other. We We have all been doing the best we can, given
can aim to strip away the fear that pervades the social context in which we have grown
our thinking and feeling and replace it with up, our life experiences and the understanding
the joy of collaborative achievement. The we have managed to acquire of our world and
resulting delight in mutual success and the ourselves. We have much to love and admire
companionship of doing things well together about being human. We have such potential
will have a motivating power far greater than for care, compassion, beauty, creativity and
the fear of failure generated by competition. wisdom.

As to economic competition, the challenge is Many prophets and wise souls have made
for us to look at what we need rather than many efforts in the past to help us open our
what we want, or what the big companies eyes, our hearts and our minds to the wider
controlling our economies decide we want. glory of Universal Life. Others will make
Do we really need mega-supermarkets on out many more attempts in the future so that we
of town sites selling enormous ranges of food can find ways of living that will provide us
and consumer goods more than we need local and all other living things on planet Earth
corner shops and a sense of thriving with a better quality of life.
community? We are choosing to box We will not achieve the vision of heaven on
ourselves further and further into an earth through competition with each other,
unsustainable corner from which it will with nature, with other life forms or the planet
become increasingly hard to escape. We are as a whole. We will achieve it through co-
set on breaking down much of the human, creation with all that surrounds us, and with
social and economic infrastructure that has great love for each other and ourselves.
served us well for centuries and putting
monuments to technology in its place.

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8. Children, Toys and Violence 33

8. Children, Toys and Violence


One way we can start to make the shift away violence? Violence has become an acceptable
from competition towards a co-operative way part of our world and is doing great harm in
of being is to address the issue of children, making us all immune to the lack of love
toys and violence. Violence stems from fear around us.
and so is counter-productive to the power of
Unconditional love has become a concept that
love. It is necessary for our young to grow up
few understand and even fewer practise daily.
with an understanding of fear and its role in
It is hard for people to grasp its importance or
the world. It is also necessary for them to
understand how to break out of the mould of
grow up with a healthy respect for violence so
fear and aggression that we have largely
that they can avoid it throughout their lives.
given in to. Those who maintain that the
Remember that the power of the creative depiction of violence on television or through
process is such that we attract into our lives games is harmless have become over-tolerant
that which we fear. So it is not useful to of the level of fear and pain in society. By
develop a fear of violence in young people, colluding with it, they effectively encourage
lest they attract the very thing into their lives it.
that we wish them to avoid.
I have often been amazed to read about the
What is needed throughout their formative issue of violence on television and in films
years is a huge amount of love and a raised in the press. There is always a strong
minimisation of fear and all the violence that protest from those who make, distribute or
stems from it. The model we can most otherwise manage programmes and films
usefully provide for them includes of all those denying any proof of a connection between
aspects of the world in which we live that are what children watch and violence in their
love-based rather than fear-based. We can behaviour. The cynic in me realizes that
provide them with toys, games, activities and violence, aggression and fear make more
exercises that depict and enhance the way money than does love. This is often used to
love operates now, and could operate even "prove" that the public wants violence more
more powerfully. than any of the alternatives. However, this
argument does not stand up against the best-
When our children are exposed to games of
selling movies of all time, which are tales of
violence in whatever form and are curious
love and romance, courage and honesty.
about them, we can help them to see the ways
in which they are fear-based and steer them The problem is that violence portrayed in
towards others that are built around love. entertainment media is too effective at
There are many opportunities for us to influencing the attitudes of people throughout
develop creativity, co-operation, growth, society. It has so dulled our sensitivities that
artistic expression, care for the environment we are now very willing to accept more;
and all living things, that there really is no indeed the more we are fed, the more we
need for fear-based entertainment or seem to want. This feeding us violence is an
activities. effective way of maintaining the total levels
of fear in the world. And maintaining these
It is too easy to expose our children to
levels is a necessary part of maintaining the
violence and aggression or provide them with
world as we know it, a world of economic and
toys of war and destruction. It is easy because
social order that pits human against human
most of us have accepted the social reality
and against all the life and natural resources
that says such things are appropriate. Take a
on the planet. Too many people are making
look around. How many attempts to resolve
too much money exploiting others and the
conflicts peacefully and civilly do we find,
environment to be able to accept the common
compared with the number of newspaper
sense that is right in front of them.
articles and news broadcasts that depict

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34 8. Children, Toys and Violence

The only way we will ultimately stop film who inevitably copy their parents’ behaviour
and television companies providing violent more readily than listen to their words. We
and fearful models for our children (and us) to will not always know the most appropriate
emulate, and the toy manufacturers from ways to behave. When in doubt, it is useful to
giving us the props to act out those models, ask ourselves the question “what is the most
will be to take personal responsibility in our loving thing to do now?” Sometimes it will be
millions for boycotting them. Many people no more than to tell our children that we want
find the connection obvious between violent to find a more loving way to behave and need
toys, films and programmes and violence on their help. Together we can explore how to be
the streets, in the home and around the world. different in the world.
Such people need to heed this wake-up call,
I have been asked before now whether I am
start to lovingly educate their families and
suggesting parents shut their children away
friends about the damage being caused, and
from the reality of a world of personal
choose to do something different.
ownership of guns, hunting of animals, wars
There is little real point in speaking out and all the other examples of violence that
against injustice and violence in the world out surround us. I am not. It is completely
there, while encouraging its growth through appropriate that children grow up to have
our children’s education and play at home and some understanding and appreciation of how
at school. Each of us can take personal violent the world is now. This can be
responsibility for generating love rather than balanced by an experience and understanding
fear in our children’s lives. We can help our of how possible it is to live lovingly instead.
children to understand the world of violence
Such an approach does not necessarily mean
and fear, at the same time as doing all we can
that we struggle to break the will of our
to provide models of a love-based way of life,
children so keen to play games with toy
and avoid models of fear-based ways of
weapons. There are plenty of examples
living.
available from myths, legends and stories that
Many of us already have to face violence and we can introduce to our children to satisfy
aggression present in our children’s such interests. Many of these can be
behaviour. How do we help them give it up? judiciously adapted to place an emphasis on
love, compassion, honour and honesty.
We can introduce them to alternative ways of
resolving their differences and getting their Home made bows and arrows can be placed
needs met. If we are unsure how to do this, in the hands of young children as excellent
there are plenty of books, courses and even tools for developing hand-eye co-ordination
counsellors who can introduce us to win-win as they play games of Robin Hood and Maid
conflict resolution, negotiation skills, the Marian. Simple wooden swords and shields
power of love in listening to and can engage hearts, minds and bodies as they
understanding each other and getting your are taught the rudiments of traditional
needs met. Chapter twelve offers a simple chivalry acting out fantasies of King Arthur
model. We can help our children to and his knights.
understand that love is a more effective way
Channelling the interests and urges of the
of resolving conflicts than fear. We can help
young into potentially productive areas is far
them to discover for themselves how much
better than falling into the trap of banning toy
more they get out of play with their friends
guns, so making them desired above of all
and life generally when they are loving,
else.
accepting and co-operative than when they
are fearful and aggressive.
This might take time, and above all
modelling. In all things, parents act as the
most powerful examples for their children,

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9. Emotions and Children 35

9. Emotions and Children


The family is the seedbed of emotional life. health and sickness, as it is in relationships,
We learnt what we know and don’t know, love and marriage, work and business and the
what we do and don’t do, entirely from our creation of what we want from life.
own parents, and as parents we in turn teach
Love and fear are the most powerful of the
our children. Unless we have done the
human emotions and the ones that have the
considerable work of shifting our level of
most profound effect in our world. They need
awareness and the emotional patterns built up
understanding most of all and yet are the least
in our first few years of life, we are likely to
well understood or appreciated of them all.
pass on to our offspring the same attitudes,
They are the universal emotions that we share
values and emotional behaviour that were
with all life in the universe. I will focus on
passed on to us. For this reason alone,
these two in our relationships with our
education in “emotional intelligence” as the
children. First, though, let us consider the
American Daniel Goleman calls it in his book
others that stem from them.
of that title, is incredibly valuable.
Anger in its free form is our way of tapping
There are five fundamental emotions. The
into the powerful uplifting energy of life. This
many intense feelings that we experience
is a primeval energy of the Hara or centre of
stem from these five: love, fear, anger, grief
our being, which, when not expressed, grips
and envy. Of these, love and fear are the
us up, and when expressed with love cleans
dominant emotions, while anger, grief and
out the pain and negativity that it is too easy
envy derive from fear. The emotions
for us to take in and bottle up. Anger is a fire
represent the purest form of energy that we
energy that cleans and burns and it requires to
can experience. The energy of our emotions is
be used with as much awareness as fire. It is
what drives everything else in life. We are the
wise to avoid the raging bush fire out of
results of our emotions.
control that cannot be contained. It is more
The societies in which we live are the useful to focus on the practical value of the
collective social and political expression of white-hot furnace that can melt the hardest
the emotional energy of the people living in metal into beautiful and useful forms.
them. What is acceptable and non-acceptable
We each need to take full responsibility for
on the emotional level has a profound
our anger. Like all our emotions, we generate
influence on this collective process of
it within us in response to the stimuli around
emotional creativity, just as how we work
us. No one can make us angry any more than
with and feed off our own and each other’s
they can fill us with love or fear. Our
emotional states contributes.
emotional responses are ours for the choosing
Coming to understand the emotions and the and our responsibility once chosen.
role they play is critically important precisely
The biggest problem with anger is the way it
because they have this profound role to play
is misused. At times, it is fully appropriate to
in creating the social reality around us. In
choose to feel angry and use that energy to
truth, our emotions are the most important
tap into aspects of power that we would
aspect of our physical existence.
otherwise probably not have available to us.
The emotions in all their richness need to be There are many stories of people so angry that
appreciated, acknowledged and accepted. they could lift things beyond their normal
That doesn’t mean we have to like them. It means or achieve things they could not
does mean that we can benefit from learning otherwise have done. At other times, it is
to understand them all and knowing how to more appropriate to react with love than with
live with them. The free expression of anger.
appropriate emotional energy is the key to
personal and social health. This is as true in

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36 9. Emotions and Children

A common time for anger to be misused is and even death – that they are willing to adapt
when grief is a more appropriate response. their behaviour to better fit our demands.
The overwhelming sadness that we feel in the Because of its widespread use in raising
face of loss can commonly trigger great children, the fear associated with shame
anger. The refusal to accept the reality of loss affects many adults today, restricting their
is frequently followed by great anger levels of self-esteem as well as their
expressed variously at the person who has left creativity. Treating all children with
or died or those believed to have caused the unconditional love and acceptance will avoid
parting. Many of us are currently only the trauma of shame.
capable of coming to experience the fullness
When we fully understand love and fear and
of our sadness or grief when we have been
how they affect all life in the universe, the
through these other stages of denial and
other three emotions will cease to be
anger.
problematic. For this reason we turn to them
In the context of grieving over death, the next.
turmoil of emotions is largely the result of our
The fundamental emotion of the universe is
belief that death is the end and something to
love. Love is the life force of the universe, the
be feared. Both are far from the truth. It is
prime energy of creation. I am talking about
possible to feel a great sense of relief and love
unconditional love, the energetic positive
for the individual who has let go of the
regard, care and compassion that goes much
physical and found the intense peace of the
deeper and wider than the romantic notions of
spiritual in its place. Such a way of reacting
love we tend to restrict the meaning of the
to death stems from our acceptance that the
word to.
departed was not solely a human being, but
truly a spiritual being having a human Contrary to popular understanding, the
existence. opposite of love is fear, not hatred. Fear is
present whenever love is absent. The
Envy is an emotion we often find even harder
fundamental choice we each get to make
to deal with than anger or grief. It is an
every moment of the day is whether to feel
emotional response to our inability to accept
love or fear. Anything and everything else
ourselves as we really are. Unable to see how
stems from this. Love and fear are the energy
our life is already a reflection of how we are
building blocks of the universe.
in the world, we look at another and see what
the ego would like to have or be now. The In the womb, a growing child is as near to the
effective way to deal with this powerful purely spiritual state as it is ever likely to be.
emotion is to focus on two questions: a) what In this state, before it leaves the safety and
is it in the other that might better reflect who security of its mother’s body, it can
we really are and b) how might we achieve experience only the two universal emotions,
that for ourselves. love and fear. The three human emotions of
anger, grief and envy are overlaid on top of
Envy, like anger and grief, would pale into
this base during the first few years of life.
insignificance if we were to choose to live life
This is why the emotional state of a newborn
from the spiritual rather than the materialistic
baby appears so much simpler than that of a
perspective.
toddler, child or adult. A baby’s emotions will
I have before now been asked about shame. swing around the balance point on the scale
that has abject fear at one end and total
Shame is a behaviour pattern rather than a
unconditional love at the other.
true emotion; the emotion that goes with it is
fear. Shame is a powerful socialising tool that How parents and other carers respond to the
we use widely, not just in families. Through baby’s emotional expression is crucial to its
shaming someone, we instil such an intense healthy development on all the levels of mind,
level of fear – fear of rejection, abandonment body and spirit. Naturally, the mother has the

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9. Emotions and Children 37

most profound effect in the first few months, play, their creativity, their behaviour to
and how she reacts to the expression of love others. We can also help them to experience
and fear in its varying degrees will set the the source of that love as both inside
scene for the way the child learns to handle its themselves and coming from Spirit.
emotions in the years to come.
We can help them to understand the positive
Every adult response to the child’s feelings effect that their loving feelings can have on
contributes to that child’s emotional themselves, on others and on the energy
education. If we respond consistently with around them. The effect can be far greater
love and acceptance, we will help the child than we might imagine. If we help our
grow into an emotionally intelligent human children to come to an understanding of love,
being. If we respond to their love with we stand to gain some of what we may not
rejection, to their fear with disapproval, to have received when we were little. In this
their anger with fear, we will have a profound way, we can see the effect of their powerful
effect on what the child takes in as being and unconditional love on all life around
acceptable and unacceptable. them, and enjoy for ourselves the experience
of being so totally loved.
Our responses can also stop children from
expressing their feelings at all. Unaccepted When our children feel fear, the most useful
emotions can be suppressed and kept inside, thing we can do is accept and acknowledge
affecting all other aspects of growth and their feelings. We can help them to
development. Emotions are flows of energy. understand the source of it, to find the words
If we block their expression, the energy has to and acceptable actions to express it. We can
find other ways to dissipate. It is likely to do help them to know that they can be safe even
this through physical, spiritual and mental as they experience the fear, so that the
paths, which adversely affects the growth of experiencing of it does not make life difficult
the body, the development of attitudes and for them. We can avoid leaving them alone in
beliefs, and the connection to the spiritual it. It pays to ignore everything we have ever
realms that is so important for the wholeness read or been told about leaving our children
of the human self. to cry. Crying is very good for them; crying is
immensely releasing and would be good for
The process of aiding the healthy emotional
us all! And the most useful way to cry and let
development of babies and children is very
out the fear, pain or hurt is to do it cradled in
simple, even if not so easy to put into
the arms of someone who really loves us, not
practice. We can best respond to every aspect
all alone shut away in a room, excluded from
of a child’s emotional expression with love
love.
and acceptance. At the level of emotions, be
ready to agree that anything goes. Be very We need to give our children the total
clear that this does not mean that anything unconditional love that will allow them to
goes at the level of behaviour in acting out reach the point of choosing between fear and
the emotions. We can very appropriately stop love. They can usefully learn that they have
a child behaving in a way that will lead to the choice, and how to make that choice.
pain or rejection while still allowing them to They can only do this if they are free to
feel the emotion driving the behaviour. experience both emotions, and helped to feel
safe enough to make the choice for
When children are bubbling over with love,
themselves. The intense love and acceptance
we can accept and acknowledge that love,
of someone they love completely is the best
help them to savour it and to express it in
way of easing the process.
ways that enhance the experience. We can
help them to relish the experience, to come to It is certainly not about trying to do away
understand what triggers it, where they feel it with fear and only ever experience love.
inside them, what words they can learn to Trying to deny fear or suppress it will not
express it, how they can show it through their weaken its control over us. Accepting the fear

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38 9. Emotions and Children

and learning to acknowledge it with love Above all, we can remember that our children
helps our children and us to choose love in can be our teachers in this area as in so many
stead in every moment. others. If we develop our ability and
willingness to empathise with our children’s
Children will experience all the range of
emotional states, we will have plenty of
emotions, both primary and secondary.
opportunity to heal our own emotional
Banning emotions, denying their existence,
upbringing.
encouraging the child to act them out
incongruently – all these things do To empathise with our children means to
considerable damage to their hearts, souls, combine a detachment from them with
bodies and minds. sharing some level of the emotional
experience they are going through. It is
It is hard to make the shift as parents. It can
almost like trying to place a small element of
take a lifetime to come to a full understanding
ourselves in their shoes, to experience what
of the emotional elements of life, even if we
they are experiencing, without getting so
have had an emotionally healthy upbringing.
sucked into our own feelings that we cannot
This is another reason why in highly evolved
remain objective. I emphasise this notion of
societies the elders of the community, rather
detachment, for it is truly unuseful for us to
than just their parents guide the young
become so associated with our child’s
through their early lives.
feelings that we take them on as our own.
As a society, we could put much more effort More appropriate is to aim for personal
into correcting the ineffectiveness of previous involvement without emotional involvement.
generations of parenting by helping those Then we can be fully present for the child
about to become parents to heal their own with some sense of what they may be feeling,
emotional wounds. We could valuably yet detached enough to be effective in helping
provide young adults with the help and them through the experience.
support necessary to develop their emotional
In practise, one of the most powerful skills we
intelligence to the point when they are ready
can learn as a parent is a form of listening
to bear children of their own. Whilst we
often referred to as reflective or active
operate a compulsory education system that
listening. I would whole-heartedly
holds young adults in schools, we have the
recommend every parent to study this simple
opportunity to educate them in such matters at
technique. Most good books on parent
an early age. Such a practical emotional
education would detail it, or if not available,
education would stand them in much better
any good book on basic counselling skills
stead than many of the academic subjects we
would also be likely to include it.
currently expose them to.
Reflective listening involves listening for the
Many of us who are already parents struggle
feeling being expressed beneath the words of
with the whirlwind of emotions that our
someone’s statement and then acknowledging
children experience. This is sometimes made
it by reflecting the meaning back to the
more difficult as our children’s feelings
speaker. The effect is to help the speaker feel
trigger our own emotions. At such times, we
seen, heard and understood, making it far
can usefully seek help from those more in
easier for them to handle the feelings they are
touch with, and understanding of, the full
struggling to deal with and express. This can
range of human emotions. These may be
work even to the point of helping to vent off
professional counsellors or emotionally
excess levels of feeling that may be getting in
literate friends and family members.
the way.
Recognising that we have much to learn about
emotions, and many unuseful old patterns to When my young son flies into a fury and
undo, is a sign of great strength. wants to kick and scream I will very gently
prevent him hurting me and feed back to him
something like:

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9. Emotions and Children 39

“You are really cross with me because I won’t


….”
This reflecting of the feelings allows him a
safe and acceptable way to vent his anger. It
also ensures that he knows he is being heard
and taken seriously by me. It may take a few
repetitions before he feels heard enough to
calm down, yet through this process he has
learnt not to hold on to his hurt and crossness.
We will not always know what our children
are feeling, and may need to have a guess.
Whether we are right or wrong is not really
relevant, for our reflective listening will help
the child express what is really going on
underneath.
Child: “I won’t go to school today!”
Parent: “You don’t want to go to school.”
Child: “I hate school!”
Parent: “There’s something you are afraid of
at school today.”
Child: “No! I just hate maths.”
Parent: “You find maths hard.”
Child: “Not usually, but today we have a test
and I’m afraid I’ll fail it.”

Acknowledging and accepting our children’s


feelings in all our interactions with them will
help them to function far more usefully in
their world. It will also help them to develop
their awareness, understanding and ability to
work with their own feelings rather than be
ruled by them. We can offer our children no
better grounding for the great adventure that
is life.

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40 10. Teenagers

10. Teenagers
The moment of transition from child to adult images and fantasies portrayed through film
is quite clearly defined in biological terms, and television.
and involves the sexual maturation of the
Young adults need to learn to care and love in
body. For many this physical maturation
an adult way, separating from their primary
happens before they enter the “teen” years. In
carers and experimenting with their emotions
traditional societies at this stage the child has
and sexuality with the support of emotionally
now become an adult, preparation for adult
and sexually mature adults. Instead we throw
life is complete and life alongside other adults
them together to share all the confusion of
now begins. This has changed in those human
physical, emotional and sexual feelings and
societies where the emphasis is placed on
what is deemed “right” and “proper” by the
intellectual schooling rather than on learning
world they are as yet denied access to.
through living fully in the world.
On the one hand, we give them unclear
In this lies the root of many of the problems
guidance about what is acceptable social and
we face with young adults. Whilst we
sexual behaviour. On the other we expose
continue to deny these young people the full
them to erotic and violent fantasies that
range of opportunities they need for their
contravene much of what we tell them. At the
social and emotional maturing, we will
same time, we are less than open and honest
always have significant problems with
with them about our own feelings, sexuality
disaffection.
and morality. It is hard for them to develop
The years that follow a person’s sexual self-responsibility in their personal lives with
maturing are those in which he or she seeks to so little valuable guidance and consistency
discover what it is like to live as an adult. from older generations.
This is the time of experimenting and
It is hard for us to provide them with effective
exploring, testing and seeking. Give young
models, because most of us never had them
adults a place in the world alongside other
when we were young! Yet, there are many
adults and they will be more than adequately
examples of effective living and good works
exposed to the lessons of life and effective
around us. There are any number of
socialisation within their community. They
individuals and a few communities that have
can develop the attitudes, abilities and skills
opted to pursue a spiritual path without being
they need for themselves and are needed of
restricted by either religion or society. We
them by their communities.
can seek out such people and communities for
Instead of which, what do we do? the beneficial models they can provide. There
is another way to be that will help us regain
We put these young people together in
our spirits and start moving again towards the
institutions, keep them apart from the adult
evolution of human consciousness. We can
models they need, deny them full
choose love over fear, heart and spirit over
opportunities to explore and experiment,
technology, and help our teenagers find new
focus them on their minds to the detriment of
ways to be in the world.
their hearts, souls and bodies, and treat them
as though they are still children. If our societies are not yet ready to abandon
the belief in schooling for teenagers, we could
The only extraordinary thing about this is that
at least shift the emphasis away from full-time
they do not all rebel a lot more than they do at
schooling and academic instruction towards a
present.
part-time education relevant to life. We could
Our “teenagers” need to live and work combine this with working alongside fully-
alongside living and working models of how grown adults in the many areas of life in
to be and what to do in the adult world. which teenagers could both add value and
Instead we replace real models with the increase their learning.

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10. Teenagers 41

Bear in mind that the most crucial lessons to We have examples all around us of people
reinforce, prior to young people reaching who manage to combine real-life education
positions of responsibility in society, are with academic achievement for those who
those of love, care and compassion, a sense of want it. Explore some of the more radical
oneness with all life, human and otherwise, attempts at secondary education around the
and a sense of reverence for the wisdom of world. We can find schools that have been
the land, of nature and of the elders. based on practical activities and education for
all, with those few who want to go to
It would not be wise to take hordes of young
university achieving the required academic
people out of schools and stick them in
qualifications in months rather than years.
lifeless factories where none of these lessons
could be learnt. It would make great sense to In chasing academic qualifications, we are not
involve them in working on the land, in serving society or ourselves. All we have
providing service to the aged, infirm and done is to increase the competition and shift
needy, and in serving their local communities the goalposts. Soon not even one doctorate
through tending communal spaces and will be enough to secure employment, let
enhancing the aesthetic and spiritual qualities alone an undergraduate degree. At one end of
of their environment. the scale the academic route isn’t working,
whilst at the other we have all but lost the
Such activities would most suitably make a
vocational development for those who
genuine contribution to the community, rather
genuinely want to work with their hearts,
than be set up as some form of “job creation
souls and bodies more than their minds.
programme” to keep young people off the
streets. They would bring a realistic financial We can do something practical for and with
return to all those involved, and engage the large group of disaffected young people
young people in working alongside currently lost in the teen years. We can help
committed and enthusiastic adults lovingly them go through the initiation into adult life
engaged both in service to their communities by providing them with meaningful work,
and the guiding of their younger colleagues. relevant training, emotional and spiritual
guidance and the love and companionship of
It would not be beyond the bounds of our
other adults including the elders of our
collective creativity to develop “life-schools”
communities.
with a curriculum of love and care,
participation and exploration, where the Governments argue that such things are too
classroom is the community, and where those expensive. Yet we currently spend thousands
people living and working in that community of millions of pounds in keeping young
have some degree of involvement in guiding people in institutions that meet neither their
and nurturing the young. own nor society’s needs. The activities of all
these potentially productive people can
A system of local life education could be
generate huge flows of energy and value in
partly funded through local exchange trading
and around their local communities. Why
systems or other locally based alternative
should it be only the banks, supermarket
currency models on the increase all around
chains and airlines that create their own
the world. This would keep the energy
money? Why could not local communities
generated through living, growing and
take on the role of creating currencies and
education as much as possible within the
wealth to benefit themselves and their future
communities where these take place.
generations? We can achieve it all if we
I can hear a distant cry for academic approach it with love rather than with fear.
achievement, educational success, preparing
for higher-level education, etc.

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42 10. Teenagers

The “problem” of the teenage generation is


one of our own making. And it is relatively
easy to solve. If we take a holistic approach to
the concept of initiation into adult life, we
will find effective ways to better provide
opportunities for teenagers and for the rest of
the population as well.
To be able to make a start, as a society we
need to be willing to abandon the fear that
currently drives us to keep young people in
schools rather than in the community where
they belong. Replace the fear with the love of
life, nature, ourselves and each other.
To be able to make a start as parents, we can
work with our teenagers to help counteract
the negativity and despondency so many of
them feel. We can acknowledge their
experience and their feelings. We can stop
trying to convince them that the old ways are
the right ways and work along side them to
come up with news ways for them to view the
world and their futures. We can help them to
learn about freedom of choice and personal
responsibility on a spiritual level. We can
help them to see how they can change their
thinking patterns and beliefs about the world
that we have unwittingly instilled in them and
start to create something radically different in
their lives.
On their own, teenagers will find it hard to
break out of the ruts we have dug for them.
With our loving help and support, much could
be achieved. Hopefully they still have the
creativity that we tend to lack. What they
need from us is the wisdom to accept that our
ways have not so far worked and the
willingness to help them think through and
discover new ways for themselves. Who
knows, perhaps what they discover might suit
us better too!

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11. Rules and Control 43

11. Rules and Controls


Living the lives that we do in our modern Next we can examine how we intend to
industrialised societies, rules and controls are impose them or have already done so, not to
necessary in the family, just as they are in the mention the way we will police them, and ask
community at large. And, just as too many again how far that too comes from a loving
rules in the community deplete individuals’ rather than a fearful attitude to life. This
abilities to take responsibility for themselves might well affect the number and types of
and others, so do too many rules within the rules we come up with, as well as how we
family. establish and maintain them and deal with any
transgressions.
In an ideal world, rules would not be required
at all: controls would exist within the Are our rules designed to encourage a loving
individuals and so would not have to be atmosphere of self-responsibility wherein
imposed externally. If we had the level of young people are likely to agree their own
emotional and spiritual awareness now to sets of controls? Or are they designed to
fully live a life of love rather than fear, we break the will of the children in our care and
could bring up our children to be sufficiently socialise them into fearful humans with little
tuned into their own needs and those of others or no spiritual awareness? Controls that stem
that they could not act against the interests of from the heart and soul will always be
all. Then, rules and controls would not have infinitely more effective at maintaining social
to be imposed. order than those that stem from the mind
alone.
Rules and controls are necessary because we
have not yet learnt to operate with total I said in an earlier chapter that the word “no”
unconditional love. While fear continues to is sufficiently important to be used only when
guide us through our human existence lacking absolutely necessary. The same can be said of
in spiritual awareness and self-acceptance, rules. Choose to set the absolute minimum
rules and controls will continue to be number of rules and make them sufficiently
important. To remove them in the hope that important to be easy to accept and follow.
this would lead to a change in attitudes and
To do this effectively, we will need to
ways of being would be foolish in the
differentiate between needs and wants. To
extreme. The attitudes and ways of being
give you some examples of what this means
need to shift so that they are governed by love
consider the following:
rather than fear, and then the rules and
controls will quite naturally fall away. A teenager may want to stay out late at a
party rather than come home at the appointed
Part of beginning to help the young to learn to
hour. What they need may be to feel they
live with love instead of fear would be to
belong in their peer group. The parents may
encourage them to become self-controlling, so
want them to be home at 10pm; what they
needing fewer rules and controls imposed by
us. need may be to know that their child will be
safe.
Where we feel that we need a set of rules in
order to protect our children and the quality Parents may want their children to watch less
of our family life, then we can impose them. television. What they need is perhaps to feel
Before we do so, it would be wise to start by that they are protecting them from violent and
taking a good deal of time to decide how far fearful influences. The children in question
the rules we choose stem from a loving or a may want to watch all the programmes that
fearful place. their friends watch. What they need perhaps
is to be credible in the eyes of their mates.

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44 11. Rules and Control

By looking beneath the presenting want and Ultimately a significant question will be: do
working with the underlying need, it is we love our children and teenagers enough to
possible for us and our children of all ages to help them develop the self-responsibility
start to develop solutions for living together rooted in self-love and compassion for all life
that meet all the needs in the family without that will lead them to a place where our rules
necessarily satisfying all the wants. There are become unnecessary? If we can truly answer
ways for children to remain safe and stay out yes to this question at the levels of heart, soul,
late. There are ways for children to be mind and body, then we will be able to work
credible in the eyes of their peers and not with them to find the most effective ways to
expose themselves to violent and fearful help them grow.
influences. There are ways for parents and
If the answer is no, if we are too fearful as yet
children to all get their needs met and care for
to let them go and accept that they have their
each other, if they do so from a position of
own lives to lead, then we have more work to
love rather than fear. I introduce one way of
do on our ability to love ourselves and heal
working with these matters in the next
our separation from the spiritual and from
chapter.
God.
What we are talking about is self-regulation
through mutual caring rather than autocratic
imposition. Yet I hear people asking, “Isn’t
there a place for the firm imposition of non-
negotiable rules? What about tough love”?
Until love becomes the norm rather than fear,
and so brings about the transformation of the
societies in which we live, there will be a
legitimate place for the imposition of some
rules and controls for the protection of life
and limb. If we can choose and implement
these rules with as much love and awareness
as possible, we will minimise the negative
effects of their imposition.
As to “tough love” – let us beware the risk of
acting with great power from a fear base and
convincing ourselves that we are doing it only
out of love for our children. We may be. But
if what lies behind our use of power is fear,
the chances are that our way of doing it will
be fearful not loving, and its effect on our
children will also be fearful not loving.
There is an important place for firmness in the
loving relationship. Sometimes to be loving
we have to act with the compassion of the owl
that strikes cleanly and silently in the
darkness, shocking the “victim” into an
altered state of being. If our motivation is
truly loving and we act in a loving way,
resisting the temptation to abuse our power
over others, then firm, clean actions can be
infinitely loving.

© Soulfodder – 06.10.01
12. Negotiating Win-Win Agreements 45

12. Negotiating Win-Win Agreements


Arguments in families do not only happen Step Two
over rules and controls. There are many times
when there seem to be many conflicting Now that we are all calm enough to work
demands among family members. As a parent things through, we need to identify the needs
I would like it to be possible for all the family underlying the wants we all have. A useful
to get what they want, do what they choose question here is “what will ……. do for
and not feel as though they are missing out. It you/give you?”
won’t always work out of course, and there Again we can use reflective listening to help
are ways we can help make sure it happens as clarify the less obvious meanings and issues
much of the time as possible. If we want to that may be wrapped up in our children’s
establish a win-win style of self-responsible desires to do or have things we don’t feel
control in our families, we could do with good about. Let us follow the example
learning the art of effective negotiation. mentioned above:-
The secret is in the piece mentioned in the last Teenager I need to stay out until 11.30pm
chapter about needs and wants. It is seldom
possible for everyone to get everything they
want. Yet it is frequently possible for Parent What will staying out until
everyone to get what they need. All sides in 11.30pm do for you?
any dispute have to understand the difference
between needs and wants and then use their Teenager I won’t have to leave before
creativity to find mutually acceptable ways to everyone else
get as many needs met as possible. You can
find books on the art of negotiation through Parent You’re concerned about having
local libraries. I offer here a simple model that to leave before the others?
I have taught for many years to parents and
Teenager Yeah, I don’t want to be seen as
children with much success. It involves 7
the sissy who has to go home
steps:-
early
Step One Parent It feels important that you aren’t
We often come to a place where negotiation is the odd one out?
required when emotions are running high. If
this happens, the first step is to help everyone Teenager I want to be part of the gang
involved calm down: upset people don’t think
straight and so can’t work anything out Parent Sounds like your real need is to
easily! When we are upset our emotions get in feel part of the peer group.
the way – they flood us out. The way to Step Two is clarifying the underlying needs
unflood someone is to help him or her vent of all sides to the disagreement.
his or her feelings. As we said in the Chapter
9, the way to do this is through
acknowledging and reflecting the feelings.
Expressing our feelings and having them
heard and acknowledged by another person is
the single most powerful way of reducing
their effect on us.
So, Step One is listening to the feelings and
help people unflood.

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46 12. Negotiating Win-Win Agreements

Step Three Step Six


Having figured out what the disagreement is Having agreed on one idea, we need to
really about and who needs what, we can start continue the discussion to make sure we are
to think of new ways to get our needs met. A clear how we will put this idea into practice
fun way to do this is to use brainstorming. and what it will mean. Everyone, however
Write down all the ideas anyone can come up large or small, old or young needs to
with, however wacky, that might provide a understand what they will be doing or getting.
solution. In brainstorming, the rule is that
We also need to build into this step an
anything goes. At this point it doesn’t matter
agreement as to when and how we will check
if you think it won’t work. The aim of the
up on whether our agreed solution is working.
game is to encourage creativity and
Reviewing the outcome of the negotiation is
innovation and there is nothing that kills
critical.
creativity quicker than people judging the
first flow of ideas. Step Six is implementing.
Step Three is brainstorming. Step Seven
Step Four At some point down the line we need to
review. If members of the family do not stick
Once brainstorming is complete, we need to
to the agreement it is because either they
evaluate the list of possible solutions. There
didn’t fully understand what was meant by it
will be some that everyone agrees won’t work
or because it didn’t meet their needs. Resist
so we can cross them off straight away.
any temptation to say the process doesn’t
There will be ones that some like but others work and go back to old ways of laying down
don’t. These we can put a question mark the law. Instead, go back to the beginning and
beside and come back to again later if work on the underlying needs so that you can
necessary. It might be that a little more brainstorm afresh and come up with a more
brainstorming could find a variation on them effective answer.
that would work for all.
Reviewing is not just for when things don’t
There will be one or two at least that work. It is also good to do it when they do
everyone could agree on so we highlight these work. Then we can celebrate our new found
ones, not making any decisions until we have ability to work things out together and share
been through the entire list. the increased amount of love and good
feelings that finding win-win ways to live
If there aren’t any that everyone can agree on,
together can bring us all.
we go back to doing more brainstorming.
Step Seven is reviewing.
Step Four is evaluating.

Step Five
Now we should be ready to choose one from
among those that are acceptable to everyone.
Being acceptable does not necessarily mean
that the chosen idea is everyone’s favourite,
but that everyone would be prepared to accept
it as the one most likely to meet everyone’s
needs.
Step Five is choosing

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13. Spiritual Education 47

13. Spiritual Education


Education is most useful if it is a holistic the soul purpose that brought us here in the
process. In reality it is whether we want it to first place, so risking a degree of stagnation in
be or not. Whatever we do, a child learns the evolution of our overall spiritual
constantly as he or she grows, even from consciousness.
before birth – learning about how to be in the
The connection to soul is still strong during
world and about what is considered right and
the early years of a child's life, strongest at
wrong. This learning takes place in the mind,
the start and, unless encouraged, slowly
in the heart, in the body and in the soul.
weakening with time. Any open-hearted and
Patterns of thinking, believing and feeling and
open-spirited parent is likely to be aware of
of physical shape, form and doing are set up
the spiritual nature of their child in the first
as a direct result of the unconscious education
few months after birth. As children grow and
of the child by those caring for him or her.
become more communicative, many of them
This process would be very much more will give signs of having some degree of
effective if it were not so strongly affected by energetic and spiritual experience and
the fear-thoughts and fearful culture that exist awareness.
around the majority of children. To counteract
I remember my second son as a small child
this influence, it is increasingly important that
twenty years ago talking about seeing people
we approach the holistic education of children
and things that weren't there as far as we were
and young people with much greater
concerned. He could tell how someone was
conscious awareness.
feeling by his or her colour, and picked up
In this Chapter we will cover the specific immediately on positive and negative energy
element of spiritual education. In the next we in places. No doubt when he first went to
will consider education more generally. school he was told not to imagine things, as
he stopped talking about them from about that
As a starting place, remember that we are all
time on. Unfortunately, this is a common
spiritual beings having a human existence,
experience of many children whose
rather than human beings some of whom may
connection to the realms of spirit is denied by
at some point have a spiritual experience.
the adults who care for them.
Long before the body was conceived and long
after it has returned to the ground, our If we are to encourage such connections, and
spiritual lives have existed and will continue help the child develop on the soul level, we
to exist. We exist in this life right now as the would best be both positive about their
aspect of our soul that chose to be incarnated experiences and proactive in the child’s
in this body. The soul is in actuality far spiritual education. Even if we have currently
greater than that aspect of it that is incarnated lost our ability to commune with the spiritual
in this body here and now. That which is elements of life, we can help our children
incarnated in me now is part of a larger retain theirs. Even if we have lost our
OverSoul. Other aspects of the OverSoul of connection to God through our own lack of
which I am a part may be incarnated in a spiritual education, we can help our children
variety of life forms at the same time, as well enhance the natural connection they bring
as living aspects of life in the spiritual realms. with them. We can do this in a variety of
ways.
Right now, we are concerned with the
education of the human in all things spiritual Crucial in the process is helping our children
so that the soul is as involved as possible in grow up with a connection to, and
the physical life we are leading now. For too understanding of, the natural world. God
many of us, the soul features little, if at all, in exists in nature all around us. The glory of the
our human lives. As a result, we miss out and seasons, the birth of new life every spring, the
our soul misses out. We are unable to pursue beauty of the sounds, sights, smell and

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48 13. Spiritual Education

textures of the living world are all aspects of understanding that all life is connected.
God’s presence in our lives. Helping our
In this whole process, we can encourage them
children to develop a reverence and love for
to feel safe in God’s presence in all things.
all that grows, all the birds and insects and
These wondrous little beings are still more
animals, will help keep open not just their
closely connected to God at birth than most
souls but also their hearts.
adults will ever experience. Encourage them
Remember that a large part of the holistic to be aware that the love they feel in their
education process is about building an hearts for all that touches them is part of the
understanding that love is all there is. The Love of God that is the life-spring of the
love that children naturally feel for small universe. We can help them to understand and
furry animals, and for the beauty of the appreciate that God is always beside them and
natural cycle of life, helps to keep their hearts that they can draw on God for help and
open so that they experience love flowing sustenance whenever they feel fearful or
through them from God as well as from us. concerned.
A conscious process on our part of helping We could usefully avoid the mistakes that our
them develop an awareness of the spirit religions make in portraying God as
realms is another important element of judgmental, so that they can determine for
spiritual education. Help them to be open to themselves what they think is right and
the beings that choose to be their spiritual wrong. For God loves all living beings
helpers. Help them to build connections to the regardless of who they are, what they do,
angels that come amongst us and the "little what they think or believe. The only “Day of
people", as some people often refer to the Judgment” is in the minds of humanity, not in
elemental spiritual beings who exist so widely the reality of God. Too many of us judge and
on planet Earth yet are denied by all “sound, condemn ourselves and each other all the
rational people”. time, and so create hell on earth even though
it does not exist as such in the spiritual
We can also reinforce rather than deny their realms.
experience in this area of life. When they talk
to us about what most adults would consider Remember that in God’s eyes there is no right
imaginary experiences, we can engage with or wrong. There are actions that work and
them fully. Instead of rationalising what they ones that don't in our individual and collective
are experiencing, we can leave their young journeying towards fulfilling the purpose of
minds to play with making what sense of it Life in the universe. The actions that work are
they need to – which is usually very little – not "right" any more than those that don't
and watch as they draw spiritual and work are "wrong"; they just are. We can teach
emotional sustenance from realms we may our children to discriminate between effective
not remember experiencing when we were a and ineffective actions. They can do this
child. simply by coming to an understanding of the
full difference between love and fear. Truly
Above all, we can help them to understand loving behaviour works, fearful behaviour
that we are all one with each other and with does not.
all life on the planet. This is best done not at
the level of mind, but at the level of heart and Let us treat our children with love at all times
soul. We can take a lead from some of the and resist the temptation to control them with
"native" cultures of the world that fear. As we said in the chapter on Rules and
traditionally educated their children to Controls, this does not mean allowing them to
understand that the animals and birds, trees get away with all kinds of behaviour that is
and plants were all their brothers and sisters. not useful in the loving order of life. It means
We can help them to be open to providing them with a model of how we
communicating with these siblings of the believe they could most usefully behave, and
natural world so that they develop the accepting them unconditionally as they are,

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13. Spiritual Education 49

even as we work with them to develop ways Spiritual education is fundamentally more
of thinking, feeling and doing that are loving about being than doing, and yet we can
rather than fearful. usefully educate the being side through
effective doing. One of the most effective
For those of us who have had no spiritual
tools we can use is the practice of reverence
basis to our lives to date, having children and
and ritual. Whatever we are doing, whether it
helping them to develop their own spiritual
is preparing a meal, walking in the park,
understanding is a wonderful opportunity to
playing or digging in the garden if we are
re-educate ourselves. We can allow them to
fortunate enough to have one, we can invent
be our teachers as well as taking the teaching
and make use of ritual. Ritual allows us to
role when appropriate. They can help us open
cultivate a sense of reverence for the natural
our hearts and souls to the spiritual reality of
world, for the people we meet, for the essence
life on earth. They can introduce us to a felt
of life in all things and for God’s love which
experience of other spiritual life forms that do
connects us all together. We can regularly
not incarnate on our planet but are
give thanks in a ceremonial way for life and
nevertheless here with us.
all its bounty, for the connections we have to
What role does religion play in all of this? other people and other life forms, for the
elements that make life possible, the sun,
The majority of the institutional religions in wind and rain, for the living planet on which
the world are not serving the spiritual we walk every day, and the joy in our hearts
evolution of humanity. They have been and the beauty than surrounds us.
effective instruments of social control through
the ages, yet in so being they have largely lost We can use storytelling to introduce the
their spiritual connections. There are many spiritual dimensions of life through the power
deeply spiritual people who are members of of myth and the imagination. Let us
the various churches around the globe. And remember to focus on unconditional love and
there are many people who have lost to avoid the many myths that exist in our
altogether their personal awareness of what it various cultures that have evolved using fear
means to be deeply spiritual, substituting for to control and dominate the spirit.
this a belief in the rightness of their particular
Almost all our religious festivals have their
churches and their doctrines.
roots in ancient wisdom. They developed at
At this stage in the evolution of our planet points in the calendar to fit in with the far
and its life forms, it will be of far greater older celebrations and rituals of the land, the
practical value for people to develop their harvest, the movements of the sun and the
own sense of the spiritual in all life and moon. We can revive the reverence for life
directly heal their sense of separation from through rediscovering these older, wiser,
God. Most, though not all, of our religions are appreciations of the planetary cycle of love
too enslaved by fear, too unloving, to be of and life. There is much spiritual wisdom
great value in the urgent task of re-awakening around us. If we open our hearts and our
the spirit in humanity. Right now we need the minds we will find people and books that we
message, not the institutionalised messenger; have either never noticed before or have
we need the teaching, not the school with its dismissed as wacky or irreligious.
hierarchies and power games. We can get all
Finally, we can remember that education is a
this without the help of organised religion by
holistic process that we all go through all the
opening our hearts and souls to God and to
time. In it we can combine the spiritual with
the many helpers of the spiritual realms
the emotional, the physical and the
crowding around the planet at this critical
intellectual. As we have said elsewhere, it is
time.
useful to avoid over-stimulating the intellect
in the first seven years or so of a child's life.
Instead, we can find ways to introduce the

© Soulfodder – 06.10.01
50 13. Spiritual Education

spiritual without turning it into a mental


activity. This may involve following the
natural lead of the child, who is after all
closer to spirit that we are. Above all, let us
open ourselves to God and trust the greater
process of the Universe that is unfolding in
our lives right now.

© Soulfodder – 06.10.01
14. Education and Schooling 51

14. Education and Schooling


From the universal perspective, education and their care for long periods. There is little
schooling are an extension of the subject of about being locked up in a so-called
raising versus guiding children that we educational establishment that is conducive to
covered in Chapter Four. Schooling falls into education. Most of us know this in our hearts,
the raising camp whilst education falls into yet readily ignore it in our heads.
that of guiding. There is a place for both as
To promote the education of the young in our
children, young people and indeed adults go
care and control, we would be wise to start
about their task of growing and maturing.
taking a much more holistic approach. The
Let us talk first about education. Education is human being goes through certain
a life-long process that starts in the womb and developmental stages in growing from a
ends as we breathe our last breath and pass newborn physical incarnation of a spiritual
back to the realm of spirit. Education isn't life form to a fully-grown specimen of
something we do to some people and not manhood or womanhood. A fundamental
others, something some people receive and mistake we have come to make in our
others miss out on. It is happening all around schooling process is to ignore these
us all the time. Every move a baby makes, developmental stages and force children to
every experience a child has, every thought tackle educational tasks they are not ready
that goes through a teenager's head has an for. It is not enough to consider only some
educative effect. Education is something we aspects of development of the child, we need
experience continually in every area of life. In models of development that fully recognise
this sense of the word, education is a reactive and deal with the emotional, physical,
response to life, a way of learning by reaction intellectual and spiritual development as an
to what goes on around us and indeed largely integrated whole.
by re-activating what we already know.
During the first years of a child's life, he or
There are also many things that it will be she is still very close to the spiritual realms.
useful to know about that we will not Children need help to become comfortable
discover solely by living life to the full and with the physical reality they experience in a
reacting to what happens around us: history, way that recognises their continued
philosophy and the inner workings of the connection to the Divine and the realms of
human psyche, to name a few. Such subject spirit. Learning to be in the body, and to
matter requires a proactive process of experience the full range of human emotions,
discovery and learning, a reaching out for is the task of the child in the first seven to
new understanding, new awareness, twelve years of life. If we can help them to do
knowledge and skill. this at the same time as grounding their
spirituality on this planet, they will develop a
Whether we are learning by daily experience
solid connection with life on earth.
or actively seeking out new knowledge, we
will usually find it easier and more beneficial We can allow them to experiment with their
if we are helped and guided by someone a physicality and their emotions long before we
step or two further along the road. Effective start introducing them to the world of the
guides, operating with love and compassion, intellect. They can maintain their acceptance
can add enormously to the value of the and understanding of the spiritual through
educational experience. connection with the natural world, through
ritual and through an acceptance of their own
In highly evolved societies, the role of guide
spiritual experience, which is often
is given to the elders in the community rather
discounted by parents as pure imagination.
than to "professional teachers". Teachers
We can encourage our children in any natural
often struggle to provide the guidance needed
contact they have with the spirits of nature,
by large groups of children forced to be in

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52 14. Education and Schooling

the Devas and fairies as well as angels and front of television for hours on end or supply
spiritual helpers who are here to help us in them with video games and toys that only
these trying times. deprive them of their creativity and instil in
them adult values. The adult values behind
We have time-honoured ways of helping
mass media entertainment and consumer
children to appreciate the world around them
electronics are themselves highly suspect in
and develop a simple understanding of life
their lack of potential to help them fulfil their
that requires little intellectual analysis.
soul purpose in life. If we could fully
Storytelling is perhaps the most universal
appreciate the damage this approach does to
way, while the playing of games that tap into
the hearts and souls, not to mention the
the imagination and allow children to work
minds, of our current generation of children,
things through in their own minds can be very
we would choose to stop doing it now.
beneficial.
Children are powerfully nurtured by spending
Children have no need to learn to read or
time out of doors, digging in the soil, playing
write, to use computers or other machines or
with colours and shapes, animals and plants,
understand the technical world of the adult
angels and fairies, stretching their imagination
until they are ready to join that world. Such
and creativity, listening with wonder to
readiness does not come until they have
stories and learning to invent their own. And
developed their full physicality and learnt to
it is best if this is all done under the watchful
live fully in the complete range of human
eye of mature and wise people who will
emotions. On some level, such readiness
shower them with unconditional love and
never comes if these two tasks are not also
slowly and gently guide them in their
completed with full conscious awareness of
activities and behaviour without trying to
their spirituality. For most children, this
force them into moulds.
transition from incarnating child to small
adult is not complete until somewhere Let us now turn to the subject of schooling.
between the ages of nine and twelve. Each By this term, I mean passing on to someone a
child will take his or her own time and trying particular set of behaviours or skills that will
to force them can cause untold problems. be of value to him or her in the life they are to
lead. We school an adult in how to drive a
Be wary of over-filling the early years with
car; we school a young person in the
stimulation and distraction. Small children
fundamentals of using all sorts of tools. Such
need very little to keep them focused on
activities require an element of technical
learning, exploring and experimenting. They
knowledge, which has to be learnt before the
do not need to be surrounded by complicated
individual can go on to fully educate himself
action toys, games, puzzles, and activities
or herself in the use of the car or tools for
better suited to the next stage in their
woodworking, cooking or anything else.
development. Activities and toys that detract
from the child's ability to use his or her own From this perspective, schooling is akin to
imagination are particularly damaging to the instruction or training and separate from the
natural development of a whole, healthy process of education. We might even
child. Have you noticed the way many advocate the use of the term schooling for
children given a shiny new toy will often children in much the same way as we use it
soon revert to playing with the box it came with animals. We school a horse to walk, run
in? Cardboard, paper, string, containers, tape, and jump in a particular style. There are some
glue, cloth and all the normal household practical aspects of a child's life that we also
contents are far superior in encouraging can usefully school them in.
creative play than most of what can be bought
The confusion occurs because we have
in a toyshop.
developed a system of schooling, which we
It is potentially harmful to the rounded consider education, when little of it really is.
development of our children to sit them in It is not a mistake that the places where we

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14. Education and Schooling 53

send our children to be educated are called world are those closest to Spirit, most
schools. It seems that across most of the connected to the world in which they live and
planet, attendance at school is for the purpose by far happier, more loving and less fearful
of instruction and socialisation, whereas than most of us in the "civilised" world today.
education is left largely to chance.
All is not lost. Schooling is not working well
It would be possible to do away with schools in increasing numbers of societies. Its
completely. Most highly evolved societies do dysfunction is precisely what provides us now
not segregate their children away in schools. with the opportunity to work towards
There is almost nothing that has to be taught education in a holistic form. That in turn
could help us all to progress in achieving our
that cannot be taught as part of a wider
soul purposes.
process of growing, learning, and living life
to the full. It will take a lot to convince everyone to do
away with schools as we know them. There
Schools have become so important in the
are intermediate stages in that process. Home
world partly because we find it too easy to see
education is an increasingly viable option for
only parts of a system at a time, and then
many parents. When I took my five year old
respond to what we see with fear and distrust
out of school in 1979 in England it was
rather than love and trust. We believe we see
estimated that there were perhaps ten
a need to teach children the rudiments of
thousand children being educated at home. 20
social behaviour, intellectual understanding
years later, that number has increased to
and how to communicate on paper, and we
nearer 100,000. An academic study reported
see these things in virtual isolation from the
in the UK’s Guardian newspaper in August
spiritual, emotional and social nature of life
2000 showed that home-educated children
on the planet. We then react to the need we
performed better on every possible test than
believe we see in a controlling and
children of the same ages in even the best
deterministic way that is both driven by fear
schools.
and engenders fear in those involved.
Home education is on the increase all around
Our determination to school children
the developed world, but it is not practical for
throughout the world has in the past been
everyone. Another intermediate step away
driven by the fear that an unschooled
from current schooling patterns is one
workforce will not be able to satisfy the
suggested provocatively for years by a few
demands of growth. Added to this now is the
radical educationalists in the UK. If we made
fear that an unschooled mass in the world
schools voluntary rather than compulsory,
poses a potential threat to the social and
then they would have to offer a form of
economic order we have created. Without
education that would excite children and
socialisation in the ways of consuming and
entice them in, rather than providing them
developing, the unschooled masses could shift
with schooling that is largely irrelevant to life
from ineffectively contributing to the global
and fails to hold their attention.
race for growth to becoming a positive force
for resistance and so a threat to that global Let us not underestimate the power of the
race. popular vote. If we all start to operate with
love rather than fear, abandoning the fear that
Of course, each individual parent willingly
our children will miss out by not going to
sending their child to school believes that
school, and if we decide to keep them at home
they are doing so for the good of the child's
in their millions, the school system would
future. Just as each individual teacher in those
change quite rapidly!
schools sees him- or herself not as an organ of
socialisation and control so much as a saviour Under ideal conditions, schools would be
from illiteracy and ignorance. Yet some of the unnecessary because children would learn
most illiterate and "ignorant" people in the alongside the significant adults in their

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54 14. Education and Schooling

families, tribes and communities. They would Instead of forcing them into competitive ways
learn by apprenticeship and through the of behaving, we could more valuably respect
gentle loving guidance of all the people and their natural inclination for individuality and
all the non-human life forms in their local possessiveness. Children forced to share
environment. before they are ready can experience all sorts
of emotional problems.
In practice, it would be possible to develop
ways of gathering children together in We can concentrate on helping them to learn
institutions that would greatly reduce the ways of being together with other children
damage done in current nurseries and schools. and adults that are co-operative and loving
There are attempts to do this going on around rather than fearful and antagonistic. At the
us all the time; the worldwide movement of same time, it is important to allow the free
Steiner Waldorf Kindergartens and Schools expression even of feelings that may appear
comes about the closest to avoiding some of to be fearful in the moment. Choosing love
the damaging aspects of conventional rather than fear in any moment is not about
schooling, even though it could do with suppressing or denying the natural fear that
evolving in the light of present needs rather will always exist. It is about learning to
than holding on too rigidly to traditional accept and love the fear that we feel and
practices. There may well be alternative consciously choose love as the controlling
establishments, small schools and other forms factor and motivation in our lives.
near you that might be much more open to a
We can also seek to do as much as possible to
holistic education than the current
make a connection between home and school.
mainstream. Exploring what is available
While it is not yet possible for parents and
could turn up many surprises.
grandparents to guide children through their
What are needed are changes to current early years of education at home and in the
approaches: community, educational institutions should at
least ensure that there is as small a gap as
We could do with a far greater number of
possible between the home experience and
adults available to guide children through
that at school.
their daily learning activities. Instead of
schools with a class ratio of one to thirty or We are talking here about a real revolution in
more, we would be wise to have children our educational system. A revolution that
being educated in the community with ratios would bring the spiritual reality of human
of adults to children more like one to three or existence onto centre stage. It would place
four. As already stated, teachers would better personal and collective spiritual development
be chosen for their maturity and wisdom than ahead of schooling children to become
their technical or intellectual competence. productive, consuming members of a soul-
less society intent on unsustainable growth
In the first seven or eight years, we could
that is taking us nowhere frighteningly fast. If
usefully avoid teaching any intellectually
we wish to ensure that we can continue to live
demanding subjects. Reading and writing
on planet Earth for the foreseeable future,
could usefully be removed from the
then revolution is what is needed now before
curriculum altogether, and replaced by
it is too late. What is needed is a decision by
painting, music, creative play, storytelling,
thousands of millions of people that enough is
singing, caring for animals and plants, and
enough, that the time has come to be the
learning reverence for all things natural and
masters and mistresses of our own spiritual
each other.
destiny.
We need to encourage free expression of the
human heart and spirit, so that small children
can learn who and what they are as well as
how to behave in the world.

© Soulfodder – 06.10.01
15. Sex and Sex Education 55

15. Sex and Sex Education


I write at greater length on spiritual sex and It does seem incredible that such a powerful
lovemaking in my text on Marriage. We and joyful act, so commonly practised is
cannot be reminded too often about the power subject to so many taboos. I know that in
of spiritual love coursing between two people some countries teachers have been heavily
in the act of sexual intercourse. When a man criticised for being “too open” with young
and a woman freely and lovingly engage in people in their sex education; this alone might
the energetic process of sexual excitement make people other than parents reluctant to
and its culmination in the union of heart, soul involve themselves in the educational process
and body, the total amount of love in their lest they be condemned by those who cannot
relationship and so in the world is increased. appreciate either the beauty or the importance
of love making.
Unfortunately, the process of learning about
sex is pretty much left to chance. Too many We are dangerously free with models of
young people have to fumble around to find sexual acts that stem from fear and violence.
loving ways to pleasure each other. Learning The negative images of current sexual
the finer points of the erotic, emotional and practice far outweigh the positive and loving
spiritual aspects of lovemaking sometimes images and insights that we could be
evades people their whole lives. portraying. We could redress the balance
through open discussion, evocative literature
This makes education about sex in its full
and the use of film and video to help open up
beauty a priority.
young people’s understanding of what sex is
Rather than avoiding the issue of sex all about and how much more it can be than
education, or restricting it to attempts to train just copulating.
young people in birth control, we could
Of course opening up the spiritual side of sex
valuably find it in ourselves to overcome our
raises the issue of sexual practice among
inhibitions and engage our offspring in
young people. There are still many groups
dialogue about sex. We can tell young people
who advocate no sex outside marriage, even
about the potential joy and wonder of real
though in many parts of the world it is hard to
lovemaking. We can make them aware that it
hold on to our virginity long enough to get
can be a deeply emotional and spiritual
married! And this all raises again the issue of
experience. We can help them to fully grasp
birth control and abortion.
the concept of physical pleasure and how to
make it as intense and enjoyable as possible. Yet, if sex in the human was just about
making babies I am convinced that God
This will be a problem for some people in
would not have given woman the ability to
some parts of the world, largely because of
refocus her sexual energy once a month
past sexual repression. However, if young
through the menstrual cycle. Once, twice or
people are to learn from the experience of
three times a year would have been more
their elders, sexual inhibitions need to be
appropriate. For thousands of years women
undone. It may be that if we cannot talk to our
knew the secrets of becoming pregnant and
children about sex we can at least discuss it
avoiding pregnancy, and so were free to use
with some of our close friends, and find out
their sexuality to tap into the Goddess, to
who is able and willing to tell of their joyful
connect directly with God. This started to
and loving experiences. After all, sex
decline with the switch from a matriarchal,
education need not be carried out only by the
love-based society to a patriarchal fear-based
parents.
one in which men sought to take over the
connection with the Divine by inventing a
vengeful, omnipotent God.

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56 15. Sex and Sex Education

We have made it again to the stage in would advocate the subject as one of the most
evolution that we so enjoyed as a species in important for educational curriculum in
older, wiser times, that allows for lovemaking schools, as well as in the home.
without the burden of too many babies. It is
I am also not suggesting that sex should only
unfortunate that some of the more
be practised in long-term relationships. Quite
technological methods of birth control have
the contrary. Provided we take a spiritual
much worse physical side effects than the
approach, spreading the lovemaking around
older natural – and just as effective – ways
will create deeper bonds between people in
now lost to the majority. The freedom to use
wider groups than nuclear families and can
the sexual act as an act of loving and spiritual
only help to increase the cohesion in
connection between two people, and to
communities.
generate more love in the world, can be a
valuable tool in the spiritual transformation of It is not particularly useful in community
the planet. Let us use it wisely, and above all building for macho young men to be able to
with great love. boast about the young women they have
bedded, any more than it is for young women
We can encourage its wise and loving use by
to boast about how many men they have
young people as well as adults of all ages.
successfully seduced. These aspects of sex as
Don’t let us be held back by the social mores
a purely physical act do little for the parties
that arose in the so-called Dark Ages of
concerned or the community in which they
western history. Instead, we can help the
live.
young to celebrate their humanness as much
through their sexuality as through other How different it would be if people could
activities. Teaching them about sex as a remember the great bonds they have built
spiritual act can help them to develop great with other people in their communities
reverence and respect for themselves, each through the deep care, shared passion, and joy
other and God. of spiritual intimacy experienced with others
whom they can now count as their friends and
It can open them up to a deeper understanding
loved ones.
of care and compassion. It is through the act
of spiritual, emotional and physical union I can hear someone asking “What about the
with another in lovemaking that they can possible negative physical consequences of
most easily come to understand what it means all this loving, in the form of Aids and other
to be one with another and with God. sexually transmitted diseases?”
Through the conscious act of sexual loving
they will come most easily to appreciate the In the short term these do present us with
difference between a spiritual being having a continued risks. Aids is a classic fear disease.
human existence, and being only a human It can only ultimately be conquered by the
being occasionally having a spiritual application of love to individual relationships,
experience. to communities and society as a whole. As a
disease it feeds on the fear that is prevalent in
The process of implementing such radical society at this time. The more fearful we
changes in our attitudes to and practice of sex become and the more we act, organise,
will require great wisdom and maturity. I am legislate and create out of fear, the more we
not advocating a sudden switch to the kind of open ourselves as a species to diseases of this
free love scenario that results in physical kind. Above all, we must not let such diseases
promiscuity. Parents would not be wise to stand in the way of acting with love. We can
encourage their children to “sleep around” as find ways around the short-term risks to the
some people put it. The art of lovemaking is a individual in order to generate the social love
disciplined and mature activity that deserves energy that is required to counteract and
to be taken seriously as well as being played eventually eradicate such ailments of the
with. So much so that, were it possible, I collective human spirit.

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15. Sex and Sex Education 57

And abortion? Abortion should seldom be


necessary if sex education is effective and we
rediscover some of the older wisdom about
birth control. And it is never appropriate to
rule out any path. We cannot end a human life
without that person’s soul agreement. Every
death is chosen. Some souls choose to
incarnate knowing that their purpose in this
life is to heal the emotional state of the
mother and/or father through giving their
human life to right a mistake or provide a
lesson. If abortion is necessary, we can most
valuably focus on what the individuals
involved need to learn from such a choice,
rather than condemning them for the way they
have unconsciously chosen to experience the
lesson.

© Soulfodder – 06.10.01
58 16. Separation and Divorce

16. Separation and Divorce


Much emotional pain and suffering being able to cope. The whole thing is seen as
accompanies the break-up of families in the such a process of failure that there is little
modern world. It has also become a opportunity for love to shine through even
significant social issue in most western when it perhaps still exists in the marriage.
industrialised countries, where we have long
The problem often lies in the fact that the love
since lost the family and community support
that binds two married or cohabiting people is
systems that might otherwise pick up the
not truly unconditional, and can easily turn to
emotional and financial load.
fear. As one starts to grow faster than the
It is not useful for us to assume that marriage other, or in a different direction, instead of
is a state blessed by Spirit and meant celebrating the signs of growth, the other
automatically to be life-long. Strong, long- starts to feel threatened and fearful. This leads
term, intimate relationships take a to holding on more tightly and trying to
considerable amount of regular effort to restrict the growth that appears to be causing
nurture as we each grow. Without that, they the problem.
will inevitably cease to serve either of us and
How much better it would be if the two
will ultimately come to an end. There is
people could celebrate each other’s growth
nothing “wrong” in this. It is inappropriate to
and help each other to move forward, even if
see separation and divorce as intrinsically
in different directions. The paradoxical reality
bad. They are products of an unuseful way to
is that two people who both desire to grow
look at life partnerships in the first place and
and evolve emotionally and spiritually are far
the impractical way of caring for children that
more likely to find ways to constantly rebuild
has developed in cultures based on the
and renew their relationship than to lose each
nuclear family.
other.
To really change the negative effects of
Change is the only thing of which we can be
separation and divorce we will need to work
one hundred percent certain. We will be
towards changing the basis of marriage,
different tomorrow from what we are today or
family life and the nurturing of children. In
were yesterday. We deny this too much of the
highly evolved societies, the role of growing,
time, constantly fighting to remain the same
nurturing and educating future generations is
against all the forces of nature, let alone those
taken on by the community as a whole, with
of spirit. Instead, we could be enjoying the
the special involvement of the elders. Living
change that slowly but surely happens to
in spiritually-based tribes or community
every one of us as we grow. We can celebrate
groupings would free us from the intense,
it together, nurture it in each other, help and
hothouse effect of marriage as we now know
guide where we can, learn and support where
it. It would both reduce the likelihood of
we can’t immediately help.
painful separation and make staying together
for the sake of the children somewhat One of the most useful things we can do is to
irrelevant. help to bring out the underlying love that
brought us together in the first place. This is
We can work over many generations towards
hard to achieve in the heat of a flaming row
this ideal. In the meantime, there is much that
that comes months, if not years, after things
we can do individually and communally to
first started to cease working between the two
ease the burden of so many people right now.
of us. If we are unlucky enough to be in a
The strain generated by separation and marriage where open and honest
divorce owes most of its causes to fear: fear communication has been lacking for some
of financial hardship, fear of being blamed, time, we could undoubtedly do with some
fear of failure, fear of other people’s opinions external help and support.
and judgments, fear of being alone and not

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16. Separation and Divorce 59

It strikes me as strange that society claims to means that the children in such families suffer
be so concerned about this issue and yet the lack of a parent around to help them grow
marriage guidance counselling services, naturally in the world. At the same time,
where children in families where no-one works
suffer because their parents are unable to
they exist, are strapped for cash and
provide anything like the “acceptable”
incapable of meeting the demand placed upon
standard of living. The huge inequities in
them.
society cost us all very, very dear.
If we can find a loving way to work through
In a more highly evolved society, we would
the differences between us, we have a far
recognise that the job of guiding children
better chance of coming to an amicable
through their first seven to ten years is too
ending of our relationship than if fear is the
important to be left to people who may not
driver. This will then have a significant effect
love them totally. We would ensure that
on the emotional aspects of the divorce or
young people and prospective or new parents
separation process.
had adequate help and training to prepare for
The research into the break-up of marriages the emotional and spiritual aspects of their
highlights the relative poverty experienced by role. We would ensure that at least one adult
the person left caring for the children. Some family member – preferably much of the time
use this to form a powerful reason for people two – had adequate financial resources to
to stay together. devote to being with the children without
having to go out to work. These might be the
Staying together for the sake of the children parents or the grandparents. We would
usually means staying together for the sake of provide enormous resources to ensure that
one or other spouse who is too terrified to local communities were family-friendly
deal with the consequences of being alone. places, and that parents could themselves
Children can provide a perfect excuse for continue to grow and evolve alongside their
refusing to see the truth and acting lovingly children.
and responsibly in its light.
I can hear you saying, ah, but this would all
The great poverty that many single parents cost a fortune. The fortune that is being lost is
experience in many western industrial the spirit of our children, the very future of
countries today exists because society does our society. It is just because we have made
not value the role of parenting enough, even the process of raising children so cheap that
though to do so would make sound economic we are facing enormous problems in every
sense. It exists because we do not invest other aspect of life.
enough in the development of effective
parenting and the provision of adequate social Value parenting enough and it would be
and financial structures to support carers in possible for the bulk of couples who decide to
society. It is not caused by divorce. get together and have a family to stay
together. The cost of divorce and separation
And yet the cost of not doing anything would plummet and our communities would
positive for families in our communities is far be far happier places.
greater than would be the cost of providing an
adequate income and effective social I have spent a little time investigating ideas
structures for families with children in the for basic income, the living wage or tax
first place. It is always hugely more expensive credit, that would be paid to families with
to clear up a mess than to prevent one. children so that only one parent would have
to work, if that. There is convincing evidence
Many “rich” nations have successfully built a showing how much cheaper it would be if
culture in which it is almost impossible to everyone were paid a basic living wage and
maintain the “acceptable” standard of living those that chose to earn in excess of that were
without two parents going out to work. That then taxed.

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60 16. Separation and Divorce

Remember that young people are our greatest


asset. If we were to stop reproducing
tomorrow, it would take only a very few years
for the entire global economy to collapse
completely. It makes no sense to devote so
little of the enormous resources of our world
to giving the young a good start in life. A big
part of the problem lies in the misconception
about what a good start would mean. We
seem to be busy defining it as an intellectual
education built on a consumerist lifestyle. We
would do better to define it as a solid sense of
the young person’s spiritual being and a love
for all living things in the universe. From
these would stem all that they need to flourish
in life.
Many of us are too busy filling our world and
our lives with things we really don’t need, at
the expense of each other, the environment
and the other living creatures on the planet.
We are busy filling the emptiness within in
the hope that we will thereby find some kind
of salvation. In reality, we will only come to
salvation by recognising that going through
the emptiness within is the way to find each
other and Spirit again.
The current struggle many of us experience
around the issue of separation and divorce
stems as much from the lack of spirit and love
in our relationships and our communities as it
does from any economic or social causes.
How we go about separation and divorce is
perhaps more important than the events
themselves. The more acceptance of each
other and ourselves we can muster the better.
The more love we bring into the proceedings,
the less trauma will result. The more openness
and compassion we manage, the less hurt
we will cause. The more respect we show
each other and all the children, parents-in-
law, siblings and so on, the more we will be
able to reduce the emotional damage that
might otherwise be inflicted.
Society’s attempts to help the process of
divorce would be most effectively focused on
these “soft” areas rather than on rewriting
legislation, providing funding for matrimonial
legal services and chasing absent parents for
maintenance payments.

© Soulfodder – 06.10.01
17. Bereavement and Death 61

17. Bereavement and Death


Attitudes to death are reflected in the ways It would be helpful to make bereavement
families act in the face of death, and are more of a spiritual process in the family by
reinforced and passed on to new generations bringing in simple rituals and activities both
most powerfully through the family. to celebrate the life of those departed and to
acknowledge the sense of loss. As much as
There was a time when the family was where
death is a release for the dying, it is only
we learnt all about birth and death. That has
natural that it leaves an emotional hole for
changed enormously over the last fifty years.
those remaining alive. The loss felt for a
In many parts of the less technologically
departed love one is real and is best fully
developed world it is still the case, and for the
acknowledged as such. We can allow
millions of people in those areas, attitudes to
ourselves to experience the grief as part of the
death are very different and not as fearful as
letting go process. The feelings will be
in western societies.
strongest when someone has been
Let us be clear that the problems so many emotionally dependent on the person who has
people have with loss and bereavement stem died, and weakest, not in those who feel less,
from our current fear of dying. If we accepted but in those who are strong enough in
that death is only the end of the human themselves to easily let go of those departing.
condition and a release back into the spiritual
Least useful in the process of bereavement is
realms, then death would be an occasion to
the tendency many of us have to ignore or
mark, but not to mourn. As such, bereavement
deny our feelings and get on with life
would be a process of coming to terms with
regardless of the inevitable emotional changes
living without our departed friends and
that death brings. Equally unuseful are blame
relations in the light of knowing that they are
and anger. Sometimes anger is directed at the
moving on in their spiritual evolution.
person who has died. Sometimes blame is
We would enrich the life experience of pointed at the living we hold responsible for a
everyone if we made death more a part of our death. Sometimes we can blame ourselves for
lives, just as if we made birth more a part. We the death of a loved one. These reactions are
could do with helping children and young most usually the result of denying that death
people to learn about the spiritual, emotional brings a positive experience for the souls of
and physical elements of leaving the body. those who leave. Help in understanding the
The death of grandparents, uncles, aunts and spiritual aspect of death will aid most people
close friends provides us with a glorious to focus on their grief rather than feeling
opportunity to further their spiritual blameful, guilty or angry.
education. At the same time it can counteract Children and young people will often take
the message of fear they may otherwise pick less time to grieve than adults, provided they
up about death. are permitted the free expression of their full
A child’s acceptance of death is quite natural range of emotional reactions. If they live in a
until he or she is taught to fear it. Departed family where the expression of sadness, anger
people often live on as joyous memories far or grief is not allowed, they are likely to
more for children than for adults, who find it bottle up their feelings and end up either
harder to come to terms with the death of becoming dis-eased or acting out their
people they love. This is because most young unresolved feelings in behaviour that is not
children have not learnt to be emotionally useful and probably not acceptable.
dependent on others in quite the same way as Parents and children can share their grieving
many adults have. process, ritualising the memory of those
departed. We can do this through creating
simple shrines, through recounting stories of
the person who has died, and sharing

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62 17. Bereavement and Death

memories, both pleasant – and if necessary – It is possible for us to grow to the point where
unpleasant. It is not useful to immortalise a soul-level decision to leave the physical
someone in death as other than they were in body could be accompanied by a conscious
life, so all aspects of a life are worth decision to die. This would then spare us the
remembering, not just the “good” bits. physical fight that results in pain, trauma,
We can help children make a simple shrine incontinence, incapacity and the many other
out of photographs, favourite artefacts aspects of modern, diseased death. Then there
belonging to the deceased, natural objects of would be no home in the world where death
beauty and common symbols such as icons, could not take place surrounded by love,
crystals and candles. We can devise simple compassion and the celebration of a life well
family rituals around such shrines during the lived.
months of the inevitable grieving process, Ritualised grieving combined with celebration
decreasing their significance as the sense of can help the bereaved. It is not dying that is a
loss diminishes. All concerned will know problem, but living, so this is the aspect of the
when the time has come for the departed one dying process most appropriate to focus on.
to be counted amongst the ancestors or Shifting our attitude towards the spiritual will
spiritual friends rather than still to be grieved help us to accept the natural and inevitable
over. fact of death in our lives and allow us to
We have done ourselves a disservice by rejoice when loved ones leave to continue
placing birth and death in the hands of their spiritual adventure in seeking eventual
“professionals” and removing both from the reunion with God.
family environment. The disservice is not
only to those dying and being born but to all
the family members who could be learning
just how natural the processes of birth, death
and life really are. Our families present
excellent opportunities for healing this whole
situation.
Part of the issue is that we focus on trying to
keep people alive as long as possible, and so
take them out of their homes into medical
institutions rather than providing them with a
loving family environment in which to die. In
this way we have handed death over to the
“professionals” as something to battle against
right until the end.
There is the beginning of a move away from
this trend in some countries where it has
become prevalent. Some medical doctors are
now accepting that there is a point at which
care should be aimed at making people
comfortable in their dying process rather than
treating them so as to avoid the end as long as
possible. We can move even further towards
this more natural way of dying as we become
better able to discern the spiritual readiness of
the soul to leave the body.

© Soulfodder – 06.10.01
18. Ancestors and Tradition 63

18. Ancestors and Tradition


As in many areas of life, this topic requires a of communities to suffer, that damage the
careful degree of balance. It is possible to be environment, create competition and power
too hung up on traditions and past practices games, and hold some people above others,
that prevent the steady evolution of ways of will certainly have developed as a result of
being and doing in the world. And it is the fears of one element of society or another.
possible to completely discount the wisdom These will not serve us well today, as they
of previous generations to the detriment of the have probably not done in the past.
present. In our rush for technological
We can seek out the more spiritual traditions
development these past fifty years or so,
that have escaped being institutionalised or
many societies around the planet have erred
turned into rigid dogma, and see how they
on the side of discounting the past. As a
apply in modern circumstances. It is not
result, we have lost much of the valid spiritual
surprising that many of the old spiritual
and environmental wisdom that our ancestors
teachings of the east have become popular in
amassed. We have done so to the point where
the north, south and west. The ancient
we are now at grave risk.
traditions of the Orient, which grew up with
Increasing numbers of people are turning to little or no direct religious structures attached
new versions of the older ways of relating to to them, have survived to be as relevant in the
spirit and the environment with which our modern era as they were in years gone by.
ancestors were much more familiar than us.
What about family traditions?
The re-emergence of interest in shamanism
and ancient tribal wisdom is one good Family traditions are perhaps a little less
example. Another is the recognition that we useful than more general cultural traditions.
have much to learn about how to care for The traditional wisdom that has grown up
planet Earth from traditional tribal peoples. over centuries, if not millennia, has already
There is much to be gained through such stood the test of time and weathered the
approaches, as well as others yet to be re- criticism of philosophers and the public.
discovered. Family traditions that perhaps only date back
a few generations may well have developed
Traditions are valid seeds for modern ideas.
out of the power and dogmatism of a family
They do not of themselves always fit with the
patriarch or matriarch without being exposed
rapidly changing aspects of human life at the
to the critical testing of unrelated thinkers. As
beginning of the twenty-first century, so they
such, they may be completely inappropriate
need adaptation. However, we will lose much
now, even if they were appropriate in the
if we disregard them completely.
past.
An interesting point to consider is how to
And we can apply the same test to them –
discern a valid tradition from an invalid or not
love or fear? There are only ever two choices.
useful one. After all, not all traditions are
useful. There are some quite inappropriate In thinking about ancestors and traditions, it
customs still practised around the world that is worth considering briefly the whole issue
have grown up as traditions and held to of timelessness and spirituality. Spirit tells us
steadfastly. We could do well to actively that time does not exist in a serial form, that it
discard these and replace them with more is only our limited ability to perceive the
humane and spiritual practices. Oneness of life and the Universe that makes
us see one moment of time following another
Coming as we are to the end of this text, we
rather than it all happening together. This
now have a very simple test to apply in such
would in effect mean that our ancestors are
matters. Have the traditional practices we are
with us now, and we can interact with them
considering developed out of love or out of
for guidance in this life.
fear? Those that cause individuals or sections

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64 18. Ancestors and Tradition

In many traditional tribal societies this is past. We can learn from past mistakes as well
precisely what happens. Reverence for the as how to adapt old traditional practices for
ancestors helps to keep a channel open current needs. On one level, education is only
between the spirits of the ancients and the about remembering what we already know.
hearts and souls of those alive right now. The sum total of human understanding exists
There is much to be gained in maintaining in the history of the planet. We have been
strong connections with the wise who have through all of today’s life-threatening
lived before us. This is not to give up control situations before. If we could just tap into the
or responsibility for our own lives, but so that great knowledge that is to be had on planet
we can seek their counsel in thinking through Earth we would be helped to find the answers
the most effective ways to live today. to every issue facing us now.
We can find plenty of guidance as to how to Much has been lost or destroyed. Yet more
do this. The use of prayer and meditation in has been saved and kept obscure if not
seeking counsel from the spirit realms is well actively hidden. Ancient treasures of wisdom
understood and regularly written about. We do exist in the world, many of which
can set aside some area of our home in contravene the accepted social and religious
celebration of the ancestors in general, order of the last many centuries. This wisdom
adorning it perhaps with symbols and has been secreted away. As we move forward,
representations of our personal ancestors and there will be considerable pressure applied to
other spiritual artefacts. Providing a focus in bring such sources to light again. Humanity
this way for the spirits of the ancestors can needs all the help it can get right now. As
help us, and those who wish to be close to us, churches and governments come slowly to
to communicate effectively. Opening our realise that the old order needs to change and
hearts and souls through ritual and prayer to that they don’t have a monopoly on designing
contact with those who have walked this the future, they will be forced to make public
planet before will also help us unlock the the existence of great works of ancient
secrets of inner knowledge that every one of wisdom that will stun historians and people
us brings into our earthly lives from our other the world over.
existences.
Tapping into ancient wisdom is not just an
There is no better way to introduce our intellectual exercise. As I have said above, in
children and young people to spiritual seeking counsel from our ancestors we can
practice than to expose them to the also tap into the spiritual wisdom of the ages
celebration of the lives of their ancestors and that belongs to us all. In finding our Oneness
the process of seeking wise counsel from the with Spirit and all life in the universe, we will
spiritual realms. Every child would benefit be able to draw on the collective spiritual
from an appreciation of the spiritual guides wisdom of Life itself. The channels for this
that are available to those who choose to lie in our hearts and souls, not in our eyes and
make contact with them. We are all ears.
surrounded all the time by spiritual beings
We also have access to the most established
willing to help us in the struggles we have
earthly ancestor of them all, and that is the
invented for the human condition. We can
planet itself. Great wisdom exists in the spirits
make use of them ourselves, and help our
of the natural world. The trees and rocks are
children to come to love and appreciate the
our ancestors, not just the humans that have
support that they can find through them.
come before. Other life forms have much to
Concern for our ancestors and for a sense of teach those who will listen. The great
tradition can also show itself in an mammals of the sea in particular have
appreciation of human history. There is much unbounded wisdom ready to share with those
to be learnt about how to live effectively in who can heal the rift our forbears created
the present through studying aspects of the between us. Even for those of us not yet ready

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18. Ancestors and Tradition 65

in evolutionary terms to communicate directly


with the many life forms on the planet, there
is much simple and profound wisdom to be
had from observation of the natural world.
Gaia and her creatures have talked to humans
since the beginnings of time. For thousands of
years we were adept at listening. This is a
great art that we would do well to recover.
It is time to remember our human and earthly
ancestors. It is time to re-member ourselves,
and become one again with the greater aspect
of our past, our ancestors and the Oneness
that is Spirit and Life in the universe.

© Soulfodder – 06.10.01
66 Epilogue

Epilogue
If you have got this far, I trust that I have
succeeded in opening your mind, your heart
and your soul to the possibilities of a spiritual
approach to how to live in families and help
your children grow up. I hope that you will be
able to take guidance from this text that can
be applied to many other areas of your life.
You might like to use the many opportunities
that life gives you to experiment with how
you can make your life different. You might
also like to experiment with how you can
make a difference in the lives of others and
the state of the world around you. The most
effective way to do this is through making a
difference inside you. How we are and what
we do is very much more powerful than what
we say (or write).
My challenge is to find ways to integrate the
spiritual into every aspect of my life. I hope
to do so increasingly as life progresses, and to
be gentle on myself when I don’t manage it. I
trust you will be encouraged to make your
own efforts and to be suitably gentle on
yourself when you don’t manage it too.
My greatest support and help in this exciting
journey comes to me through my close
connection to God. We can each find that
support for ourselves in whatever way is
easiest for us. There is no right way to be in
relationship to the highest source of spiritual
wisdom: some do it through art, some through
nature, some through service, some through
prayer, some through meditation, some
through exercise. The how is irrelevant. That
we do it is all that is relevant.

© Soulfodder – 06.10.01

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